15. Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL
> Population growth (2011-2016): 11.78%
> Total population: 267,059
> Per capita income: $46,340
> Unemployment rate: 4.2%
Situated along the coast of Florida’s Panhandle, the Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin metro area, like many rapidly growing metros, has a warm climate and significant beachfront real estate. Along with the population growth over the last five years, economic conditions have also improved considerably. Unemployment fell from 8.5% in 2011 to 4.2% 2017.
14. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX
> Population growth (2011-2016): 11.80%
> Total population: 6,772,470
> Per capita income: $54,346
> Unemployment rate: 5.6%
The broader Houston metro area’s population has grown from 6.1 million in 2011 to about 6.8 million in 2016. A high birthrate accounts for a large share of population growth in Houston, although migration both from other parts of the country and abroad were the largest source of population growth in the area.
The metro area’s economy has grown in conjunction with its population. Houston’s GDP has increased by an average of 4.7% each year in the past five years, faster than in all but 10 other U.S. metro areas.
13. Fargo, ND-MN
> Population growth (2011-2016): 11.86%
> Total population: 238,124
> Per capita income: $49,987
> Unemployment rate: 2.7%
Good economic conditions may explain much of Fargo’s 11.9% population growth in the last five years. Unemployment has remained quite low in the area, falling from 3.9% in 2011 to 2.7% in 2017. This is in stark contrast to the U.S. unemployment rate, which was as high as 9.1% in 2011 and now stands at 4.7%.
Not only are jobs readily available in Fargo, but they also appear to pay relatively well. Personal income per capita in Fargo is about $50,000 a year, about $1,900 higher than the comparable national figure. A dollar also goes farther in Fargo as goods and services are about 6.5% less expensive in the metro area than they are on average nationwide.
12. Raleigh, NC
> Population growth (2011-2016): 12.02%
> Total population: 1,302,946
> Per capita income: $48,411
> Unemployment rate: 4.4%
North Carolina’s capital is one of only 12 U.S. metro areas to report a population boom of at least 12% over the past half decade. Population growth in the Raleigh metro area is due primarily to Americans moving in from other parts of the country and from abroad — though a high birthrate also played a significant role.
The Raleigh metro area is a key part of the Research Triangle region, so-named because the area is home to a number of high tech jobs and research institutions. Partially for this reason, Raleigh’s population is among the most highly educated in the country, as 44.4% of area adults have at least a bachelor’s degree.
11. Bismarck, ND
> Population growth (2011-2016): 12.14%
> Total population: 131,635
> Per capita income: $54,124
> Unemployment rate: 2.8%
Large urban centers are typically among the most attractive destinations for Americans looking to relocate. With a population of 131,635, Bismarck is one of the smaller, more rural metro areas on this list, but this has not hindered its five-year population growth of 12.1%.
Home values in an area reflect the demand for housing — often among relatively new residents. In Bismarck, the median home value of $236,300 is one of the higher home values of all metro areas, and it is up substantially from $157,800 in 2011. The area’s January unemployment rate of just 2.8% is one of the lowest in the nation and reflects the favorable economic conditions that can attract new residents.