More than four-fifths of the nation's 361 metropolitan areas posted a larger population as of July 1, 2006 than they had on April 1, 2000. But can you guess which metro are was the fastest growing.
If you guessed Atlanta, go to the head of the class. But if you guessed St. George, Utah, you are a winner, too.
According to figures released earlier this month by the Census Bureau, the Atlanta area gained 890,000 residents during the survey period. That's the largest gain among the 305 metro areas that sported gains. At the same time, St. George, in the southwest part of Utah, recorded a 39.8 percent gain, the largest percentage gain of all.
The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta was the nation's ninth largest as of July 1, 2006, with a population of 5.1 million. And it was just one of six areas that gained at least half-a-million people during the six-year-plus period.
Dallas-Fort Worth had the second largest numeric increase at 842,000, bringing the population there to about 6 million people. Another Texas city, Houston, posted an increase of 825,000.
Phoenix (787,000) and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (771,000) rounded out the top five metro area gainers over the time period. That means the five metro areas experiencing the greatest numeric change between 2000 and 2006 were in the South or West.
The Northeast metro area with the greatest numeric change between 2000 and 2006 was New York, which was seventh overall nationally. The Midwest metro area with the greatest numeric change over the same period was Chicago, which came in 10th.
New York was the most populous metro area as of last July with 18.8 million people, followed by Los Angeles (13 million) and Chicago (9.5 million). Fourteen metro areas had populations of 4 million or more.
Nor surprisingly, the New Orleans metro area experienced the greatest numeric loss from April 1, 2000, to July 1, 2006, declining by 292,000 to about 1 million. Other big-time losers were Pittsburgh, down 60,000, and Cleveland, off by 34,000.
On a purely percentage basis, after St. George, the five biggest gainers were Greeley, Colo., 31 percent; Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., 29.6 percent; Bend, Ore., 29.3 percent, and Las Vegas, 29.2 percent.
Percentage wise, the New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, La., metro area also had the biggest loss during the same time period, with as decline of 22.2 percent. It was followed by Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss., down 7.4 percent, and Weirton- Steubenville, W.Va.-Ohio, down 5.2 percent.
In case you didn't notice, the 50 fastest-growing metro areas were almost evenly distributed between just two regions -- 23 were in the West and 25 were in the South. One metro area -- Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Ark.-Mo. – straddled both the South and Midwest regions. But Sioux Falls, S.D., was the lone metro area among the top 50 located completely in the Midwest.
That means, of course, that none of the top 50 were in the Northeast. York-Hanover, Pa., the fastest-growing metro area in the Northeast, ranked 95th.
Fastest Growers, By the Numbers
|Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga.||890,211|
|Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas||842,449|
|Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas||824,547|
|Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.||771,314|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, Calif.||584,510|
|New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa.||495,154|
|Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, Fla.||455,869|
Fastest Growers, By Percentage
|St. George, Utah||39.8%|
|Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.||29.6%|
|Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.||29.2%|
|Naples-Marco Island, Fla.||25.2%|
Source: Census Bureau