America’s Fastest Growing Cities

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The U.S. population rose by just 0.72% in 2013, the lowest growth rate in more than 70 years. Not only has the country become less-attractive to immigrants than in years past, with net immigration down from nearly 1.2 million as of 2001 to 843,000 last year, but also the U.S.’s domestic birth rate has dropped to a multi-decade low.

While population growth in most of the country’s metro areas has slowed in recent years, in a small number of metro areas it grew a great deal. Between April 2010 and July 2013, the U.S. population rose by just 2.4%, but in 16 metro areas the population grew by 7% or more. Based on recently released U.S. Census Bureau estimates, 24/7 Wall St. examined the cities with the fastest growing populations.

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The fastest growing metro areas stood out as an exception to national trends. Last year, the population fell in more than 60% of non-metropolitan counties across the U.S., Bill Frey, senior fellow and demographer at the Brookings Institution told 24/7 Wall St. These declines, according to Frey, are attributable to a number of factors, including natural changes in population and shifting immigration trends.

According to Frey’s research, the U.S. migration rate within the country in 2013 was also close to an all-time low, set in 2011, while the rate of people specifically migrating to a different county was also close to an all-time low. For the population aged 25 to 34, who are far more likely to migrate than Americans of other ages, the migration rate has never been lower.

However, those cities with significant increases in populations have welcomed large numbers of Americans in recent years. More than 16,000 Americans moved to The Villages, Florida, in the last three years. The domestic migration drove the population of America’s fastest growing metro area from 93,420 in 2010 to 107,056 last year.

Six of the fastest-growing metro areas were among the bottom 20% best areas for unemployment rate at the end of 2013. Bismarck, North Dakota and Midland, Texas had the nation’s lowest and third-lowest unemployment rates, respectively, at just 2.4% and 3.1%. Of course, for residents in places such as The Villages, work may not be the primary appeal because many residents there are of retirement age.

Several factors that are unique to these places drive their economies and may draw people to move there. In Odessa, Midland and Bismark, “they just happen to have an oil boom,” explained Frey. Other metro areas, like The Villages, can be “retirement communities [that] happened to be able to get some of those folks.”

In addition to vibrant economies, many Americans may be drawn to a particular area due to its affordability. All of the metro areas that are growing rapidly have relatively low costs of living. Figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis show that the nation’s fastest growing metro areas had price levels below the U.S. as a whole in 2011. In Auburn, Alabama, the price level was 88% of national prices, among the lowest levels in the U.S. People, Frey noted, “want to move to a place where the cost of living isn’t so high that you can’t have a house and you can’t have a decent lifestyle.”

Based on recent U.S. Census Bureau estimates, 24/7 Wall St. tracked changes in population for 381 metropolitan statistical areas from April 2010 through July 2013. Additionally, we also reviewed figures from the Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey. Data on incomes and price levels, current as of 2012 and 2011, respectively, are from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Figures on home price change are from the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) House Price Index and are current as of the end of 2013. Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for December of each year from 2010 to 2013 are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These are America’s Fastest Growing Cities