Latest census estimate calls The Villages America’s fastest growing metro
The Villages was the nation's fastest-growing metropolitan area, according to new estimates.

No other region in the U.S. even comes close.

While the official 2020 census is underway, the U.S. Census Bureau has released its most recent estimates for counties and metropolitan areas, finding The Villages to be the nation’s fastest-growing metropolitan area.

According to new estimates released by the bureau, the sprawling retirement community in Sumter, Lake, and Marion counties grew by 42% between 2010 and 2019, reaching 132,000 population. No other metro area in America came close to such growth, as Myrtle Beach, sprawling across northern South Carolina and southern North Carolina, was next with 32% growth, followed by Austin, Texas, with 30% growth.

The Cape Coral-Fort Myers metropolitan area made the top ten list with the nation’s eighth-fastest growth rate, 25%, reaching an estimated 770,000 population in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In terms of raw-numbers for population growth, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach metropolitan area had the nation’s sixth-greatest increase in the first nine years of the 2010s, adding 600,000 people to reach a total metropolitan population of 6.2 million last year. As a result, the Miami metro area now appears to be the nation’s seventh-largest, passing Philadelphia in the 2010s.

The Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metropolitan area had the nation’s ninth-greatest growth, adding 477,000 people to reach a population of 2.6 million by 2019. That’s a 22% growth rate for Orlando.

The nation’s greatest per-person growth in the past decade was in Dallas and Houston. The Dallas metro area added 1.2 million people in the first nine years of the 2010s, while Houston added 1.1 million people.

Looking at counties, Sumter was the nation’s sixth-fastest growing, with population rising 42%; Osceola County was the nation’s eighth-fastest, at 40%, and St. Johns County was the nation’s 10th-fastest, at 39%.

In announcing the estimates, the Census Bureau pointed to a clear trend in which most urban and suburban counties saw significant population growth while most rural counties saw population declines.

People are leaving rural areas for metro areas.

More than half of America’s counties, the vast majority of them already low-population, lost people in the 2010s according to the estimates through 2019, the bureau said.

“One interesting trend we have seen this decade is widespread population decline among smaller counties, while larger counties tended to have population growth,” Christine Hartley, a demographer in the Census Bureau’s Population Division stated in a news release. “Three out of four counties with a population of less than 10,000 in 2010 had even smaller populations in 2019. At the same time, three out of four counties of 50,000 or more were larger in 2019 compared to 2010.”

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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