By their very nature, Census results look backwards. They show population shifts over the course of the past decade, but don’t necessarily predict where shifts will occur in the coming decade. But with its first population estimates since 2010, the Census Bureau is identifying different patterns of growth that could be significant over the coming years.
According to the new population estimates (technically for July 1, 2011), of the 50 fastest-growing metro areas from 2000 to 2010, fewer than half (24) are also among the 50 fastest growing since the 2010 Census. One such example is Palm Coast, Fla., which was the fastest-growing metro area between 2000 and 2010, but fell to 55th place between 2010 and 2011. Similarly, Las Vegas, the third fastest-growing metro area between 2000 and 2010, fell to 151st place. Some metro areas showed less change: St. George, Utah, the second fastest-growing metro area between 2000 and 2010, dropped only to 11th place.
Conversely, New Orleans, which experienced the greatest percentage loss between 2000 and 2010 (primarily because of Hurricane Katrina), was 35th in metro area percentage growth between 2010 and 2011. Besides New Orleans, there were nine metro areas that were not among the 100 fastest growing between 2000 and 2010 but were among the 50 fastest growing from 2010 to 2011: Hinesville-Fort Stewart, Ga.; Columbus, Ga.-Ala.; Odessa, Texas; Fayetteville, N.C.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Bismarck, N.D.; Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla.; Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss.; and Hattiesburg, Miss.
Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Wash., and Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Texas, were the nation's two fastest-growing metro areas between 2010 and 2011, with population increases of 4.3 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively.
Although new patterns of growth have emerged since the 2010 Census, some trends persist from the last decade. One example is the growth in Texas. There were five large metro areas (2011 populations of at least 1 million) among the 20 fastest growing from 2010 to 2011. Four of them were in Texas: Austin (second), San Antonio (16th), Dallas-Fort Worth (17th) and Houston (18th).
Another trend that persisted: nearly all of the fastest-growing metro areas from 2010 to 2011 (46 of 50) were located in the South or West.