Nationally, there are 384 metropolitan statistical areas (MSA), which are defined as an economically integrated set of counties with a core central city with a population of 50,000 or more. They range in size from Carson City, Nevada (55,916) to the New York-Newark-Jersey City MSA (19,216,182) which crosses New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Within North Carolina, there are 15 unique metro regions, ranging from Goldsboro (123,131) to Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia (2,636,883 across NC and SC).
With a combined population of 283 million, nearly seven of every eight Americans lived in one of these 384 metro areas in 2019. Between 2010 and 2019, metro areas grew at a combined rate of 7.5%, faster than the national growth rate of 6.3%.
Fifty-three of these MSAs are what we might consider “large” metropolitan areas, with a population of one million or more residents. Overall, these larger metro regions grew at a faster pace than the growth rate for all metro areas, growing at a combined rate of 8.3% since 2010.
We can also further narrow this down to large and fast-growing MSAs, with “fast-growing” defined as growing more than twice as fast as the national average, or 12.6% or more since 2010. Nationally, there are sixteen metros that met this definition; two are in North Carolina (Raleigh and Charlotte). Texas and Florida are the only other states with multiple large and fast-growing metro areas.
As a group, these large and fast-growing metros grew by 17.9% since 2010. Austin (29.8%) was the fastest-growing large metro, followed by Raleigh (23%), Orlando (22.2%), Houston (19.4%), and San Antonio (19.1%). Raleigh rose one ranking to second fastest-growing since we reported last year. Within the state, Charlotte grew by 17.5% and gained 392,920 new residents since 2010 while Raleigh gained 260,292.
Growth can take place in a population in one of two ways. First, more people can move into an area than move out. This is referred to as net migration. Second, an area can have more babies born than residents die. This is referred to as natural increase. Both of these processes drove growth in the nation’s large, fast-growing metros, but net migration was the more important factor.
For each of the top ten fastest-growing large metros, net migration accounted for more than half of all growth. Net migration was the largest share of growth in Orlando (78%), followed by Charlotte (71%), Austin (70%), and Raleigh (69%).
In a future post, we’ll answer the question, “Why is Raleigh growing so fast?”