WASHINGTON (AP) – No big city grows – and shrinks – at a higher rate each workday than the nation’s capital, which sees its daytime population swell by 72 percent as commuters stream in.

The Census Bureau on Thursday released its first-ever estimates on daytime population changes. Officials say the data, based on the 2000 Census, can be used for city planning and disaster relief efforts.

Overall, New York City grows by the most people during the day, about 563,000. But that’s only 7 percent of the city’s population of 8 million. Other large cities that experience large daytime population growth include Boston, which expands by 41 percent, and Seattle and Denver, which each grow by 28 percent.

Atlanta grows by 62 percent while tiny Lake Buena Vista, Fla., near Walt Disney World, grows by a whopping 192,238 percent.

That city, about 20 miles southeast of Orlando, has just 16 residents, according to the 2000 census. But it grows to 30,768 during the day from workers commuting to Disney and surrounding businesses.

Which cities supply the commuters? Among those with more than 250,000 residents, Aurora, Colo., a suburb of Denver, shrinks by 51,000 people during the day. Virginia Beach, Va. drops 49,000 people, and Arlington, Texas, 41,500.

A result of the commuting patterns and population shifts: traffic.

“That’s why we are in such bad straits,” said Lon Anderson, director of public and government relations for AAA Mid-Atlantic in Washington. “The traffic has gotten much worse over time, and I think these figures tell some of that story.”

Denise Jameson avoids the Washington-area traffic by riding the subway into the city from her home in Prince George’s County, Md. The commute to her job as a legal secretary can take up to an hour, but Jameson said it’s too expensive to live closer to work.

“I’d love to live in the city,” Jameson said outside a Metro subway station near downtown Washington. “I was born and raised in the city.”

Washington, with a resident population of 572,000, swells by 411,000 people during the day.

Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon said the new data also can help illustrate the impact of natural disasters.

For example, New Orleans had a population of about 485,000 before Hurricane Katrina hit the city, but it grew by about 60,000 people during the workday.

“By providing information on the number of people not living in the area, but nevertheless greatly affected by the event, the data can provide a clearer picture of the effects of disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,” Kincannon said in a statement.

On The Net:

Census Bureau: www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/daytime/daytimepop.html

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