Bellevue's population was estimated to be 140,700 as of April 1, 2017 making it the fifth largest city in the state of Washington just behind the cities of Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma and Vancouver, Washington.
Bellevue’s population comprises just under two percent of the state’s total population and just under seven percent of King County’s population. The City covers an area of approximately 33.5 square miles resulting in a population density of 4,198 people per square mile.
Top Ten Largest Washington Cities in 2017
Source: Washington State Office of Financial Management, Population Estimates Division.
Trends and Projections
Since incorporation in 1953, Bellevue’s population has grown at an average annual rate of 5.1 percent a year. However, much of that growth has been due to annexation especially annexations that took place in the 1950s and 1960s. Bellevue quintupled its land area annexing nearly 19 square miles between 1953 and 1970, and the city’s population grew by a factor of ten, going from 5,950 in 1953 to 61,196 in 1970.
Bellevue Population 1953 to 2017, Forecast to 2035 with Percent Share of Growth from Annexation and Natural Increase or Immigration
Source: Population estimates prior to 2000 are from the City of Bellevue with decade points from the U.S. Census Bureau. Estimates from 2000 on are from Washington State’s Office of Financial Management. Official population estimates are for April 1st of the specified year. Forecast is from the City of Bellevue’s Comprehensive Plan adopted in July 2015.
Over the past four decades and into this current decade, annexations have represented about 25 percent of Bellevue's population growth on average and Bellevue’s population has grown 1.8 percent per year. However, in the future Bellevue's rate of population growth is projected to slow to less than one percent per year with Bellevue's population projected to reach 160,400 by 2035.
Bellevue Annexations 1953 to 2017
Source: City of Bellevue Department of Planning and Community Development.
Native and Foreign born Shares of Population Growth from 1990 to 2010
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 1990 Census, 2000 Census and 2010 Census and 2010 American Community Survey.
As Bellevue's neighborhoods have aged, growth from natural increase has slowed and more growth has come from in-migration, much of which has come from overseas, especially from Asia. Between 1990 and 2000 the foreign born population comprised about 67 percent of Bellevue’s growth, and between 2000 and 2010 the foreign born population represented 107 percent of Bellevue’s growth, as the native population shrank in size. This pattern is similar to many other metropolitan areas across the country. Governing magazine found that 37 growing metro areas would have lost population had it not been for new residents from abroad.
Between 2000 and 2010, Bellevue’s population grew by 11.4 percent, slightly faster than King County’s at 11.2 percent, but slower than Washington State’s increase of 14.1 percent.
Within the City, the Downtown and Crossroads neighborhood areas witnessed the largest increases in population between 2000 to 2010, followed by Cougar Mountain/Lakemont, Northwest Bellevue, West Bellevue and Bridle Trails. Other areas in the central part of the city also witnessed growth, but to a smaller extent. In contrast, Northeast Bellevue and the area covering Sammamish and East Lake Hills lost population over the decade. Population decline generally occurs as a neighborhood ages and children move out of the home. When a new cycle of families move in, population may again increase.
Population Change in Bellevue's Neighborhood 2000-2010
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2000 Census and 2010 Census.
Data on population come from two main sources: the United States Census Bureau and Washington State’s Office of Financial Management.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s decennial censuses, which take a 100 percent count of the population every decade, provide the anchor points from which estimates are generated for following years (post censal estimates). Once two anchor points exist, the Office of Financial Management creates a new set of annual estimates called intercensal estimates to yield a more consistent series. OFM’s postcensal estimates represent Bellevue’s official population estimates as they determine the level of state funding allocated to the City.
The U.S. Census Bureau also provides population and housing estimates each year along with demographic components of change by age, sex, race, and Hispanic Origin for the nation as part of their population estimates program.