May 26, 2022

Reference: New Data: America’s Fastest Growing Counties and Metropolitan Statistical Areas 2016

From the U.S. Census:

The statistics released today provide population estimates and components of change for our nation’s 382 metropolitan statistical areas, 551micropolitan statistical areas, and 3,142 counties, as well as Puerto Rico’s metropolitan statistical areas, micropolitan statistical areas and municipios.

Maricopa County, Ariz., replaced Harris County, Texas, as the county with the nation’s highest annual population growth, according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates released today. Harris County was the largest numeric gainer for eight years in a row. Maricopa County gained 81,360 people between July 1, 2015 and July 1, 2016, or about 222 people per day, while the nation’s second-largest population gainer, Harris County, gained 56,587 people, or about 155 people per day on average.

Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, primarily grew through the addition of 43,189 residents from net domestic migration, a measure of how many people move to or from an area versus other parts of the United States. The county also added 25,428 people from natural increase (more births than deaths) and 10,188 people from net international migration.

Harris County, Texas, home to Houston, saw changes in net domestic migration, going from a net gain of more than 17,000 to a net loss of more than 16,000. Despite this, Harris County had the second largest gain in population due to high natural increase (46,412) and net international migration (27,922).

“In the early 2000s, Maricopa County was in the top one or two counties by numeric growth. From 2009-2011, Maricopa County saw much lower net migration than in the years before or after, which caused the county to drop out of the top population-gaining counties,” explained Peter Borsella, a demographer in the Census Bureau’s population division. “While net international migration has not reached prior levels, net domestic migration and natural increase have continued to rise, making Maricopa County this year’s largest numeric gainer.”

In addition, Maricopa grew the fastest among the top 10 largest counties at 1.95 percent, an increase from 1.90 percent from the previous year. Harris County remained the third-largest county with 4.6 million people, and Maricopa County remained the fourth-largest county with 4.2 million people. Los Angeles County and Cook County, Ill., remained the largest and second-largest counties, respectively.


Source: U.S. Census (March 2017)

Census Data

Source: U.S. Census (March 2017)

The statistics released today provide population estimates and components of change for our nation’s 382 metropolitan statistical areas, 551micropolitan statistical areas, and 3,142 counties, as well as Puerto Rico’s metropolitan statistical areas, micropolitan statistical areas and municipios.

On the Move

Source: US Census

In the coming months, the Census Bureau will release 2016 population estimates for cities and towns, as well as national, state and county population estimates by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin.


Some High-Population Counties or County-Equivalents Continued to Experience Population Loss

These notable high-population counties continued to see population loss:

  • Cook County, Ill. (Chicago): -21,324.
  • Wayne County, Mich. (Detroit): -7,696.
  • Baltimore city, Md.: -6,738.

Baltimore city saw an increase in population loss this year primarily due to a doubling of its net domestic out-migration.

Census Data

Source: U.S. Census (March 2017)

Fastest-Growing Areas in Utah

Three of the 20 fastest-growing metro areas between 2015 and 2016 were located either partially or completely in Utah (St. George, Utah; Provo-Orem, Utah; and Logan, Utah-Idaho).

  • Provo-Orem, Utah, and Logan, Utah-Idaho, saw natural increase as a larger component of growth than either net international migration or net domestic migration, while St. George, Utah, saw net domestic migration as a larger component of growth than either net international migration or natural increase.
  • Also, San Juan County, Utah, was the fastest-growing county in the United States among counties with populations of 10,000 or more in 2015. It grew by 7.6 percent.

Second-Fastest-Growing U.S. County in 2015 Fell to 2,858th in 2016

North Dakota counties no longer top the list of fastest-growing counties by percentage change.

  • McKenzie County fell from second-fastest growing by percentage change to 2,858th.
  • Williams County fell from third to 3,105th.
  • Mountrail County fell from sixth to 2,375th.
  • Stark County fell from eighth to 3,103rd.

All of these counties lost population due to people moving away to other parts of the United States (negative net domestic migration). Formerly fast-growing North Dakota counties have been replaced in the top 10 by counties in Iowa, Oregon and Washington. Other top 10 counties once again are in Utah, Texas and Florida.

County Highlights

  • Eight of the 10 counties with the most natural decrease (more deaths than births) were in Florida. Four of the top 10 counties with the most natural increase were in California, and 3 of the 10 were in Texas.
  • St. Louis County, Mo., dropped below 1 million for the first time since 2011, largely due to a rise in net domestic out-migration.
  • Three counties reached a population milestone of 100,000 or higher: Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska; Highlands County, Fla., and Carver County, Minn.
  • Pasco County, Fla., reached a population of 500,000, and Tarrant County, Texas, reached 2 million.

Metropolitan Statistical Area Highlights

  • The nation’s 382 metro areas contained approximately 277.1 million people in 2016, representing approximately 86 percent of the nation’s population. This was an increase of approximately 2.3 million people from 2015.
  • For the fourth year in a row, The Villages, Fla., a metro area west of the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla., metro area, was the nation’s fastest-growing metro area, with a 4.3 percent population increase between 2015 and 2016.
  • The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas, and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas, metro areas were the two largest numeric-gaining metro areas between 2015 and 2016, increasing by more than 100,000 each.
  • Four metro areas were among both the 25 fastest growing and the 25 largest numeric gaining between 2015 and 2016: Austin-Round Rock, Texas; Raleigh, N.C.; Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla.; and Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. For all four areas, net domestic migration was a larger component of change than either net international migration or natural increase
  • Among the 10 largest metro areas, the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, Ill.-Ind.-Wis., metro area was the only metro area that did not grow in population between 2015 and 2016.

Puerto Rico

  • Overall, Puerto Rico’s population has been decreasing since 2010. The Commonwealth total resident population decreased by 314,850 (or 8.4 percent) since 2010 to 3,411,307 on July 1, 2016.
  • San Juan experienced the largest numeric decrease in population of any municipio, losing 8,497 residents between July 1, 2015 and July 1, 2016, followed by Bayamón (-4,448 residents) and Ponce (-3,748 residents).
  • Of Puerto Rico’s 78 municipios, only Gurabo experienced growth between July 1, 2015, and July 1, 2016, gaining 56 residents (an increase of 0.1 percent).
  • All other municipios experienced a decline in population. The fastest-declining municipios were Peñuelas, Lares and Guánica, featuring a decline of 2.7 percent each.
About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.