Special Report

America's Fastest Growing Cities

Source: Thinkstock

20. Provo-Orem, UT
> Population growth (2011-2016): 11.52%
> Total population: 603,309
> Per capita income: $34,227
> Unemployment rate: 2.7%

The Provo-Orem metro area’s population grew by 11.5% since 2011, far outpacing the U.S. population growth of 3.7% over the same period. Unlike most rapidly growing metro areas, which are primarily growing by attracting new residents, Provo-Orem’s population explosion is largely the result of a high birthrate. Of the area’s 11.5% growth rate, about 9.2 percentage points are attributable to a natural increase — births outpacing deaths — in the area. Some 51.1% of area residents are younger than 25, the largest such share in the country.

Source: Thinkstock

19. Charleston-North Charleston, SC
> Population growth (2011-2016): 11.72%
> Total population: 761,155
> Per capita income: $43,393
> Unemployment rate: 3.9%

The Charleston metro area population has increased from about 681,000 in 2011 to well over three quarters of a million in 2016. The metro area’s economy has accommodated the influx quite well. Unemployment in the coastal South Carolina metro has fallen from 8.8% in 2011 to 3.9% in 2017. The local jobless rate is also well below the national rate of 4.7%. The area has also benefited from higher-than-average 2.5% annual GDP growth over the last five years.

Source: Joseph Brooke / Flickr

18. Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL
> Population growth (2011-2016): 11.74%
> Total population: 208,563
> Per capita income: $40,121
> Unemployment rate: 5.7%

By far the largest contributor to the Daphne-Fairhope-Foley metro area’s population growth over the last five years is attributable to migration from other parts of the United States. New residents may be attracted to the area’s relative safety and affordability. Goods and services in the metro area cost nearly 8% less than they do on average nationwide. Additionally, there were only 195 violent crimes for every 100,000 metro area residents in 2015, a far lower violent crime rate compared to a national rate of 373 incidents per 100,000.

Source: Thinkstock

17. Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC
> Population growth (2011-2016): 11.75%
> Total population: 211,614
> Per capita income: $45,158
> Unemployment rate: 4.3%

With miles of beach, two dozen golf courses, and hundreds of tennis courts, Hilton Head Island is a popular tourist destination. In the last five years, the broader Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort metro area has also been a magnet for new residents as the area’s population ballooned by 11.8%, faster than all but a few other U.S. metro areas. In addition to recreational amenities, favorable economic conditions may have been drawing new residents. Goods and services are about 6% less expensive in the metro area than they are across the country on average, and only 4.3% of the local labor force is out of a job, lower than the 4.7% national unemployment rate.

Source: Thinkstock

16. Punta Gorda, FL
> Population growth (2011-2016): 11.77%
> Total population: 178,465
> Per capita income: $37,745
> Unemployment rate: 5.5%

The ongoing growth of the U.S. elderly population helps explain the influx of residents to popular retirement destinations. Punta Gorda, where over half of residents are 55 older, is a case in point. Only The Villages, another Florida metropolitan area, has a proportionally larger elderly population. The outsized contribution from migration versus natural growth — births minus deaths — also reflects this trend. Unlike most cities, especially on this list, natural growth was negative in Punta Gorda, meaning there were more deaths than births over the last five years.

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