Special Report

Gainesville, FL Is One of America's Fastest Growing Big Cities

XiXinXing / iStock via Getty Images

The U.S. population grew by 2.7% over the past five years, from about 327 million in 2016 to almost 332 million people in 2021. But in recent years, urban populations in much of the country have swelled even more rapidly.

Nearly two hundred U.S. metro areas reported population growth on pace with the national population change or faster. In any area, population change is the result of migration and natural change. Migration refers to the net change in people moving to and from an area, while natural change is the difference between births and deaths.

Due to these factors, the Gainesville metro area in Florida reported 22.4% population growth in the last five years, the ninth most among 381 U.S. metro areas with available data. The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey shows that Gainesville’s population grew to 344,881 from 281,796 in 2016.

Economic opportunity is one of the most common reasons people move within the United States, and areas with strong job markets can provide better economic stability for new families. Over the last five years, unemployment in the metro area has fallen considerably. As of the end of 2021, 3.6% of the Gainesville labor force were out of work, down from 4.2% at the end of 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

Rank Metro area 2016-2021 Pop. change (%) 2021 population 2016 population Dec. 2021 unemployment (%) Dec. 2016 unemployment (%)
1 Jackson, TN 39.6 180,799 129,527 3.7 4.8
2 Manhattan, KS 38.1 133,932 97,004 2.5 3.4
3 Fayetteville, NC 37.9 524,588 380,389 5.5 6.3
4 Longview, TX 32.4 287,868 217,446 5.4 6.3
5 Ames, IA 30.0 126,195 97,090 2.0 2.2
6 Sumter, SC 26.4 135,782 107,396 4.0 5.5
7 Morristown, TN 22.6 143,855 117,320 3.8 5.0
8 Wausau-Weston, WI 22.6 166,189 135,603 2.2 3.3
9 Gainesville, FL 22.4 344,881 281,796 3.6 4.2
10 Columbia, MO 20.5 212,796 176,594 2.2 3.0
11 St. George, UT 19.3 191,226 160,245 1.8 3.5
12 Clarksville, TN-KY 16.9 329,864 282,075 4.1 5.4
13 Durham-Chapel Hill, NC 16.9 654,012 559,535 3.1 4.4
14 Coeur d’Alene, ID 16.5 179,789 154,311 3.0 4.2
15 Boise City, ID 16.1 801,470 690,214 2.3 3.5
16 Hattiesburg, MS 15.9 172,507 148,803 3.3 4.9
17 Pocatello, ID 15.7 97,645 84,377 2.4 3.4
18 Provo-Orem, UT 15.6 696,699 602,543 1.5 3.0
19 Greeley, CO 15.3 340,036 294,932 4.9 2.9
20 Charleston, WV 15.2 252,942 219,579 3.8 5.4

 

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