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For the past four years, Austin has been the fastest-growing large metropolitan area in America, its population having climbed 9%.


But in 2015, new Census data show, Austin was knocked off its perch— barely—by the Cape Coral-Ft. Myers metro area in Florida, which grew 3.3%, compared with Austin's 3%.

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Cape Coral was previously the top-growing metro from 2004 to 2006, according to data compiled by economist and housing expert Jed Kolko. The area is known as a popular retirement destination, and was recently ranked third in projected job growth.

Florida dominated the list of fastest-growing large metros last year, notching four of the top-10 slots. Just behind Austin was Sarasota, which is a short drive north from Cape Coral-Ft. Myers. Here's the full top 10:

  1. Cape Coral-Ft. Myers (3.3%)
  2. Austin (3%)
  3. Sarasota (2.7%)
  4. Orlando (2.6%)
  5. Raleigh (2.5%)
  6. Houston (2.4%)
  7. Charleston, SC (2.4%)
  8. Provo (2.4%)
  9. Lakeland, FL (2.3%)
  10. Las Vegas (2.2%)

Kolko said that most of the growth in these cities was driven by in-migration from other parts of the U.S., and that the lack of natural increase from births was actually a drag on growth.


Kolko also found that suburban counties grew faster than urban ones. Here's his chart:

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"While population growth in urban counties has clearly recovered from the housing bubble, during which urban counties lagged for many years and even lost population in 2006, the rebound in urban population growth was brief," he said. "Urban counties outpaced all other areas only in 2011, and urban growth in 2015 slowed to its lowest level since 2007."

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.

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