Special Report

Cities Americans Are Flocking To

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15. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2019: +17.3% (+368,588)
> Overall population change, 2010-2019: +22.2% (+473,748)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2019: +30.6% (+309,707)
> 2019 population estimate: 2,608,147

The Orlando area’s population increased to over 2.6 million people, as 368,588 more people moved to that part of Central Florida than moved away from it. Many of these people were likely attracted by the area’s relatively strong job market. The Orlando area has had a lower unemployment rate than the U.S. overall since 2013.

The population change due to migration in the Orlando area is unique among the cities Americans are relocating to because of how much of its migration came from overseas. While 186,592 people moved to the Orlando area from other parts of the country, nearly 182,000 people came to the area from another country.

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14. Midland, TX
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2019: +17.3% (+24,557)
> Overall population change, 2010-2019: +28.9% (+40,932)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2019: +56.2% (+38,885)
> 2019 population estimate: 182,603

Midland is one of two metro areas in Texas to have a large population increase due to net migration over the past decade. The West Texas area had 24,557 more people move to it than move away from it between 2010 and 2019. Midland’s overall population increased by 28.9% during that time, as it also reported an 11.2% natural population increase because births were far more common than deaths.

Midland, largely reliant on the oil and natural gas industry, consistently had one of the best job markets in the country throughout the last decade. The number of people working in the area increased by 56.2% — from roughly 69,000 to 108,000 — between 2010 and 2019. It has also consistently had one of the lowest unemployment rates each year. In 2019, its 2.1% unemployment rate was the fourth lowest of all U.S. metro areas.

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13. Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2019: +18.7% (+112,597)
> Overall population change, 2010-2019: +20.4% (+122,704)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2019: +20.4% (+49,804)
> 2019 population estimate: 724,777

As you may expect from a place named Winter Haven, many people move to the Lakeland-Winter Haven area, located in Central Florida, for its climate. The metro area increased in size from just over 602,000 people in 2010 to nearly 725,000 in 2019. The majority of this increase was driven by migration, as nearly 90,000 people moved to this area from elsewhere in the country over the past decade.

Like many other places with warm climates, the Lakeland-Winter Haven area is a popular tourist destination. It features the world’s largest Legoland and numerous lakes and golf courses. These tourist-friendly areas have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 outbreak. In May 2019, its unemployment rate was 3.9%, slightly above that of the U.S. By May 2020, it had increased to 19.4%, well above the 13.3% U.S. rate.

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12. Greeley, CO
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2019: +19.4% (+49,035)
> Overall population change, 2010-2019: +28.3% (+71,665)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2019: +38.3% (+45,874)
> 2019 population estimate: 324,492

Greeley, just about 50 miles north of Denver, is the only Colorado city to rank among the fastest growing, based on net migration. Just over 49,000 more people moved to the Greeley metro area than moved away from it in the past decade. Unlike many other cities Americans are flocking to, there were many more births than deaths in Greeley from 2010 to 2019.

The Greeley area has a number of positive economic indicators. Its median household income is nearly $14,000 higher than the U.S. median. Its poverty rate of 10.8% is also well below the U.S. poverty rate of 13.1%.

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11. Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2019: +19.6% (+63,056)
> Overall population change, 2010-2019: +19.7% (+63,380)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2019: +36.3% (+46,613)
> 2019 population estimate: 384,902

From 2010 to 2019, over 63,000 more people moved to the Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Florida metro area than moved away from it — a 19.6% increase compared with the 2010 population. This area in southwestern Florida now has a population of nearly 385,000 people.

The Naples area has a relatively high share of affluent residents, with 11.8% of households earning at least $200,000 per year. For comparison, just 7.6% of U.S. houses earn that much. The area also has one of the nation’s highest median home values, at nearly $370,000.