The United States has added about 17 million people since the last major census in 2010, a 5.3% population growth. The increase has been steady over that time, at 0.7% to 0.8% a year. This growth, however, does little to reflect the constantly shifting landscape of this country, where over 1 in 10 people move each year.
Examining population change at a more local level, the county level, reveals that nationwide there are places that have lost more than 10% of the population since 2010, while there are places that added more than 20% to their populations.
While population growth rates vary, nearly every state in the country has at least one county or county equivalent where the population grew at a faster rate than the nation as a whole since 2010. Reviewing population change figures from the Census Bureau from July 2010 through July 2017, 24/7 Wall St. identified the fastest growing county in each state. In states that do not have counties, we reviewed what the Census Bureau treats as the equivalent to a county.
For the United States as a whole, natural growth — births minus deaths — accounts for the largest source of population growth. Following natural growth, immigration from other countries accounts for the rest of the population growth. In most of the fastest growing counties in each state, however, the lion’s share of population growth is due mostly to domestic migration.
The reasons Americans move to a certain place differ from county to county. Some counties have booming economies, evidenced by job growth and low unemployment. Others benefit from ongoing migration patterns from the Snow Belt and Midwest to the Sun Belt. Still others represent affordable housing opportunities as home prices continue to rise in the post-recession housing market recovery.
To identify the fastest growing county in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the seven-year population estimate change from the U.S Census Bureau’s Annual Estimates of the Resident Population from July 2010-July 2017. Only counties with a base population (from April 2010) greater than 10,000 were considered. If a county had a seven year population growth but either a two or three year population decline, it was excluded. Annual unemployment figures at both the state and county level are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and are 2017 annual figures.