It’s no secret that America’s most popular cities from a century ago, like New York and Chicago, have actually been shrinking in recent years, but even newer destinations like Los Angeles are also falling from their peak populations. Instead, U.S. residents are flocking to up-and-coming hotspots in the South and West.
A hundred years ago, U.S. Census figures show that 91.3% of the nation lived outside the Western states, but now the West is more populous than both the Midwest and Northeast. Meanwhile, the South is currently the fastest-growing region of the country after stagnating for much of the last century. Census figures for 2020 show the composition of the current U.S. population to be 38.1% in the South, 23.7% in the West, 20.8% in the Midwest, and 17.4% in the Northeast.
More plentiful and higher-quality job opportunities have been among the driving forces for the move south and west. Seattle has been a prime example of the renaissance in tech jobs out west, and Austin’s growth as a new high-tech hub in Texas has earned it the nickname of the “new Silicon Valley.” Outdoor recreational opportunities and more favorable weather have also factored in strongly, as well as lower costs of living.
Even more recently, new migration trends have dispersed residents from traditional western destinations like Los Angeles and San Francisco to other places, particularly neighboring states. Over the last decade, California stands out as a notable exception in the fast-growing West; people are leaving California in droves and heading to Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. In fact, 6 of the 10 fastest-growing states benefited most from California residents, according to Census data that identified the most common origin for recent movers.
In the South, the primary beneficiaries of recent growth have been Florida, Texas, and the Carolinas. On the other end of the spectrum, the Midwest has become less popular, led by an exodus from Illinois. Outside of moves to neighboring states, which is by far the most common phenomenon for domestic migration, lots of movers also went from New York to Florida, California to Texas, Florida to Tennessee, and New York to California.
To pinpoint which metropolitan areas across the country are growing the fastest, researchers at Inspection Support Network compiled U.S. Census Bureau statistics from 2015 and 2020, then compared the difference in population. The results are right in line with state-level trends. Idaho has several leading midsize and small metros on the lists, Las Vegas and Phoenix are in the top five, and cities in Florida and Texas are commonplace throughout.
Here are the fastest-growing large metropolitan areas in the U.S.
|Metro||Rank||Percentage change in population (2015–2020)||Total change in population (2015–2020)||Population 2020||Most common origin for recent movers|
|Austin-Round Rock, TX||1||14.6%||292,489||2,295,303||Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX|
|Raleigh, NC||2||11.7%||148,708||1,420,376||Durham-Chapel Hill, NC|
|Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ||3||10.5%||479,564||5,059,909||Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA|
|Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL||4||10.5%||249,797||2,639,374||Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL|
|Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV||5||10.4%||218,131||2,315,963||Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA|
|Jacksonville, FL||6||9.8%||142,273||1,587,892||Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL|
|Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC||7||9.6%||234,770||2,684,276||New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA|
|Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX||8||9.3%||651,816||7,694,138||Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX|
|San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX||9||8.9%||211,375||2,590,732||Austin-Round Rock, TX|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL||10||8.7%||258,488||3,243,963||New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA|
|Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA||12||7.4%||276,887||4,018,598||Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA|
|Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX||13||7.3%||483,675||7,154,478||Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX|
|Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA||14||7.0%||399,179||6,087,762||New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA|
|Salt Lake City, UT||15||6.4%||74,663||1,240,029||Provo-Orem, UT|
For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on Inspection Support Network’s website: https://www.inspectionsupport.