(The Center Square) – Two of the 10 counties that saw the greatest population growth last year were in Florida, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Polk and Lee counties gained the most residents last year, according to the data.
Polk County gained 24,287 people, bringing its population to 753,520; Lee County gained 23,297 people, bringing its population to 787,976 as of July 1, 2021.
Miami-Dade County also ranked in the top 10, but for counties that reported population declines. It lost 38,990 people last year, bringing its population to 2.66 million as of July 1, 2021. It’s the second consecutive year the county has reported a population decline.
Broward County also reported its second consecutive year of a population decline. It lost more than 10,000 people, bringing its population to 1.93 million.
Four of the top 10 metro areas that reported the greatest population growth by percentage were in Florida. Punta Gorda and The Villages, ranked 4th and 5th, growing by 3.7% and 3.6%, respectively.
Lakeland-Winter Haven and Cape Coral-Fort Myers ranked 7th and 9th, growing by 3.3% and 3%, respectively.
One metro area in Florida ranked in the top ten for having the greatest numeric population growth: Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater. It gained 36,129 people in 2021, bringing its population to over 3.2 million.
Four of the ten metro areas reporting growth in this category were in Texas.
Sixty-three percent of metro areas had positive net domestic migration in 2021, the Census Bureau reports. In the top three was also Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, gaining 42,089 people.
However, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater also experienced a natural decrease in 2021, with more people dying than being born, of 9,291. The same was true for North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, reporting a natural decrease of 6,643 people.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s Vintage 2021 estimates of population and components of change, released Thursday, includes population estimates for 384 metropolitan statistical areas, 543 micropolitan statistical areas and 3,143 counties.
In contrast to the population gains reported, all counties in Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island reported natural decreases, meaning there were more deaths than births. More than 73% of counties nationwide reported natural decreases in 2021.
Five of the top ten counties that saw the greatest numerical growth were in Texas. Some counties experienced population declines due to migration nationwide. Counties in California, New York and Illinois reported the greatest population decreases.
The lack of affordable housing in Miami-Dade could be one of the reasons for its population decline, though the Census Bureau doesn’t provide reasons for the changes in population.
New Realtor.com data on rental homes in the Miami metro area reveal that rent increased by more than 55% year-over-year as of February.
“Rents continue to increase the most in the Sun Belt metros, at an average growth rate of 22.5% Y/Y,” it reports, with Miami being the fastest growing market.
Miami was also the least affordable rental market in February 2022, it notes. The median rent for a typical studio to 2-bedroom unit in Miami was twice as high as the estimated maximum affordable rent for the median household, it states.
However, rent was also up in other parts of Florida over the same time period. In Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, rent was up 35.4%. In Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, rent was up 32.3%. In Jacksonville, rent was up 24.9%.
Data from the Census Bureau released earlier this month also show that Florida had the highest rate of new businesses opening in 2021, of 636,680, or 11.7%.