The Fastest-Growing Metropolitan Areas in the U.S.

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

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 metropolitan areas in the U.S.

The Fastest-Growing Large Metropolitan Areas

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

15. Salt Lake City, UT

  • Percentage change in population (2015–2020): 6.4%
  • Total change in population (2015–2020): 74,663
  • Population 2020: 1,240,029
  • Most common origin for recent movers: Provo-Orem, UT
Photo Credit: ESB Professional / Shutterstock

14. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA

  • Percentage change in population (2015–2020): 7.0%
  • Total change in population (2015–2020): 399,179
  • Population 2020: 6,087,762
  • Most common origin for recent movers: New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

13. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

  • Percentage change in population (2015–2020): 7.3%
  • Total change in population (2015–2020): 483,675
  • Population 2020: 7,154,478
  • Most common origin for recent movers: Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
Photo Credit: f11photo / Shutterstock

12. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

  • Percentage change in population (2015–2020): 7.4%
  • Total change in population (2015–2020): 276,887
  • Population 2020: 4,018,598
  • Most common origin for recent movers: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
Photo Credit: Kevin Ruck / Shutterstock

11. Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN

  • Percentage change in population (2015–2020): 8.6%
  • Total change in population (2015–2020): 155,244
  • Population 2020: 1,961,232
  • Most common origin for recent movers: Knoxville, TN
Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

10. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

  • Percentage change in population (2015–2020): 8.7%
  • Total change in population (2015–2020): 258,488
  • Population 2020: 3,243,963
  • Most common origin for recent movers: New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
Photo Credit: f11photo / Shutterstock

9. San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX

  • Percentage change in population (2015–2020): 8.9%
  • Total change in population (2015–2020): 211,375
  • Population 2020: 2,590,732
  • Most common origin for recent movers: Austin-Round Rock, TX
Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

8. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

  • Percentage change in population (2015–2020): 9.3%
  • Total change in population (2015–2020): 651,816
  • Population 2020: 7,694,138
  • Most common origin for recent movers: Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX
Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

7. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC

  • Percentage change in population (2015–2020): 9.6%
  • Total change in population (2015–2020): 234,770
  • Population 2020: 2,684,276
  • Most common origin for recent movers: New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

6. Jacksonville, FL

  • Percentage change in population (2015–2020): 9.8%
  • Total change in population (2015–2020): 142,273
  • Population 2020: 1,587,892
  • Most common origin for recent movers: Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL
Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

5. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV

  • Percentage change in population (2015–2020): 10.4%
  • Total change in population (2015–2020): 218,131
  • Population 2020: 2,315,963
  • Most common origin for recent movers: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

4. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL

  • Percentage change in population (2015–2020): 10.5%
  • Total change in population (2015–2020): 249,797
  • Population 2020: 2,639,374
  • Most common origin for recent movers: Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL
Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

3. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ

  • Percentage change in population (2015–2020): 10.5%
  • Total change in population (2015–2020): 479,564
  • Population 2020: 5,059,909
  • Most common origin for recent movers: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
Photo Credit: Farid Sani / Shutterstock

2. Raleigh, NC

  • Percentage change in population (2015–2020): 11.7%
  • Total change in population (2015–2020): 148,708
  • Population 2020: 1,420,376
  • Most common origin for recent movers: Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

1. Austin-Round Rock, TX

  • Percentage change in population (2015–2020): 14.6%
  • Total change in population (2015–2020): 292,489
  • Population 2020: 2,295,303
  • Most common origin for recent movers: Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

Methodology & Detailed Findings

Data on population for 2015 and 2020 as well as migration patterns across metropolitan areas are from the U.S. Census Bureau. To identify which locations are the fastest growing, researchers calculated the percentage change in population between 2015 and 2020. The most common origin for recent movers is the metropolitan area or state with the largest absolute number of movers using the most recent migration data available. For metropolitan areas, this covers 2014–2018; for states, this is for 2018–2019.

All metropolitan areas from the U.S. Census with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Additionally, to improve relevance, metropolitan areas were grouped into cohorts based on population size: small (100,000–349,999), midsize (350,000–999,999), and large (1,000,000 or more).