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America's fastest growing (and shrinking) cities

24/7 Wall St. Logo By Thomas C. Frohlich of 24/7 Wall St. | Slide 1 of 11: Austin, Texas; Sierra Vista, Ariz.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The nation's population growth has slowed

The U.S. population rose by just 0.75% in 2014, roughly flat from previous years and the lowest growth rate in more than 70 years. Not only has the country become less attractive to immigrants than in previous years, with the population growing just over 0.3% last year as a result of migration, but the U.S. domestic birth rate has also dropped to a multi-decade low.

While population growth in most of the country’s metro areas has slowed in recent years, in a small number of metro areas it grew a great deal. From April 2010 to July 2014, the U.S. population rose by just 3.1%, but in five metro areas the population grew by 10% or more. Based on recently released U.S. Census Bureau estimates, 24/7 Wall St. examined the cities with the fastest growing populations.

The fastest growing metro areas stood out as an exception to national trends. In 85 of the 381 U.S. metropolitan areas, the population fell or remained flat last year. In 184 of the remaining metros, population growth was less than 1%. In a previous interview, Bill Frey, senior fellow and demographer at the Brookings Institution told 24/7 Wall St. these declines are attributable to a number of factors, including natural changes in population and shifting immigration trends.

However, it was domestic migration that drove the population in America’s fastest growing metro areas. The population of the Villages, Florida, grew 26.1% in the last four years as a result of domestic migration, one of the highest such growths compared to other U.S. metro areas.

Several factors that are unique to these places drive their economies and may draw people to move there. In Odessa, Midland, and Bismark, “they just happen to have an oil boom,” said Frey. Other metro areas such as The Villages can be “retirement communities [that] happened to be able to get some of those folks.”

All but one fast growing metro area had an unemployment rate lower than the national rate of 5.6% in December. Bismarck, North Dakota and Midland, Texas had the nation’s lowest and third lowest unemployment rates, respectively, at just 3.0% and 2.0%. Of course, for residents in places such as The Villages, work may not be the primary appeal because many of the residents are of retirement age.

Based on recent U.S. Census Bureau estimates, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed population changes in 381 metropolitan statistical areas from April 2010 through July 2014. We also reviewed figures from the Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey. Data on incomes and price levels, as of 2013 and 2010, respectively, are from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Unemployment rates for December 2014 and annual unemployment rates for 2010 and 2013 are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Click ahead for America’s five fastest growing (and fastest shrinking) cities, and then visit 24/7 Wall St. for the complete report.

© David Sucsy/Getty Images; Janet Schwartz/MCT via Getty Images; Craig McCausland/Getty Images

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