Florida metro areas completely dominate national top 25 list for population growth

by | Sep 29, 2023

  • Florida cities, including Wildwood-The Villages, Punta Gorda, and Lakeland-Winter Haven, experienced significant population growth from July 2021 to June 2022 due to high net migration rates.
  • Wildwood-The Villages led the nation with an 8.7% population increase, followed by Punta Gorda with a 4.9% growth, making Florida home to 14 of the top 25 fastest-growing metro areas in the United States.
  • Factors contributing to this growth include Florida’s favorable tax climate, thriving industries, and appealing weather, with other states trailing behind Florida in population increase.

Florida’s population boom has already been well-documented, but a new report puts the state’s growth into broader national context, revealing that Florida completely dominates a national top 25 list of the fastest growing metro areas. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program collected between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022,  cited metro areas such as Punta Gorda, Wildwood-The Villages, and Lakeland-Winter Haven saw significant increases in their population, thanks to high net migration rates.

The annual survey, which captures data up to June 2022, reveals that the Wildwood-The Villages metro area led the nation with an 8.7% population increase due to net migration, which translates to a jump of 11,680 people. Close behind are other Florida metros, including Punta Gorda, which reported a 4.9% growth or a rise of 9,520 people. In total, 14 of the top 25 fastest-growing metro areas in the United States are in Florida.

The increase is measured by net migration, which only considers people moving into and out of the area and does not account for population changes due to births or deaths. According to the data, the number of people who moved to Punta Gorda outpaced those who moved out by about 9,520, marking a 4.9% increase in population. This ranks as the third-largest increase of all 387 metropolitan areas in the United States.

But it’s not just about the top of the list; Florida cities are scattered throughout the rankings. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, Ocala, Port St. Lucie, Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Sebring, Panama City-Panama City Beach, Naples-Marco Island, Sebastian-Vero Beach-West Vero Corridor, and Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville also made it to the top 25, proving the appeal of the Sunshine State as a destination.

Factors driving growth are multifaceted but include Florida’s favorable tax climate, booming industries, and of course, its famously sunny weather. Additionally, many have cited the state’s policies and public services as factors for this inbound migration.

Other states did make the list but could not surpass Florida’s dominance. Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach in South Carolina came in second place with a 4.9% population increase and 18,100 more residents. Wilmington, NC, and Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL, also featured in the top 15 but were completely outnumbered by Florida cities.

The recent data paints a picture of a state in high demand, with cities that are successfully attracting new residents at an impressive rate. As Florida continues to grow, the eyes of the nation will be on how it manages this population influx and leverages it for economic and social development.

Already, the population squeeze has caused housing demand, and therefore housing costs, to skyrocket.  But the lack of outbound migration means that homeowners aren’t moving, so there are fewer homes to purchase as well. All of those factors are taking a toll as lawmakers and policy analysts try to figure out ways that Florida can accommodate the growth.

Here’s the National Top 25 Fastest Growing Metro Areas:

Rank Metro area Pop. increase from net migration, July 2021 to June 2022 (%) Pop. increase from net migration, July 2021 to June 2022
1 Wildwood-The Villages, FL 8.7% 11,680
2 Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC 4.9% 18,100
3 Punta Gorda, FL 4.9% 9,520
4 Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL 4.2% 31,960
5 Homosassa Springs, FL 4.1% 6,550
6 Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL 4.1% 32,420
7 North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, FL 3.9% 33,900
8 Wilmington, NC 3.7% 16,240
9 Ocala, FL 3.6% 14,030
10 Port St. Lucie, FL 3.5% 17,780
11 Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL 3.4% 23,200
12 Sebring, FL 3.4% 3,460
13 Panama City-Panama City Beach, FL 3.2% 6,450
14 Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL 3.0% 7,300
15 Naples-Marco Island, FL 3.0% 11,540
16 St. George, UT 2.9% 5,640
17 Sebastian-Vero Beach-West Vero Corridor, FL 2.9% 4,780
18 Spartanburg, SC 2.9% 10,470
19 Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ 2.8% 6,140
20 Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL 2.7% 16,460
21 Lansing-East Lansing, MI 2.6% 12,030
22 Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Port Royal, SC 2.6% 5,790
23 Sherman-Denison, TX 2.6% 3,620
24 Pinehurst-Southern Pines, NC 2.6% 2,650
25 Prescott Valley-Prescott, AZ 2.5% 5,990

Source: U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates Program


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