Over the last five years, the U.S. population grew by 2.7%, increasing from approximately 327 million in 2016 to nearly 332 million in 2021, with immigration accounting for nearly the entire increase. The ongoing trend sees Americans relocating to the West and South, which are also home to the nation’s fastest expanding urban centers.
To determine the fastest growing large cities, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed population data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey one-year estimates. We listed all 20 metropolitan statistical areas with at least 15% population growth from 2016 to 2021. We added seasonally-adjusted December employment figures – used to calculate employment growth from 2016 to 2021 – from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Factors contributing to the expansion of these cities include thriving local economies, a more affordable cost of living, appealing retirement destinations, vibrant college-town atmospheres, and milder climates.
Close to half of the speediest growing U.S. metro regions are in the South, a region now home to 40% of the nation’s inhabitants. The roster includes three metro areas in Tennessee and two in North Carolina. (Find out if these are also among the cities that will grow the most by 2060.)
Beyond the South, Idaho and Utah are witnessing the rapid ascent of their metro areas. The list encompasses three significant Idaho cities: Coeur d’Alene, Boise City, and Pocatello. Idaho is profiting from an influx of residents departing high-cost California.
Utah claims a place on the list with St. George and Provo-Orem. Both metro areas boast unemployment rates below 2%. Additionally, they secured the highest employment growth among all the metro regions listed during the 2016-2021 period.
With the exception of Greeley, Colorado, the unemployment rates in all but one of the listed metro areas decreased between 2016 and 2021.
Many of these metro regions derive benefits from hosting prominent universities, including Ames, Iowa; Gainesville, Florida; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Jackson, Tennessee; and Columbia, Missouri. (Here are cities with the youngest populations.)
Click here to see America’s 20 fastest growing big cities.
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