The majority of counties recorded population growth between 2020 and 2022, but some counties performed much better than others. UNDREY VIA GETTY IMAGES

Austin Business Journal writes, "when it comes to population growth during the Covid-19 era, large suburbs are shining. Urban centers and rural counties? Not so much.

That’s according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau with updated population estimates for 2022. 

Nationally, counties with populations of at least 250,000 in 2020 grew by an average of 0.84% between 2020 and 2022. For all counties, the average was 0.44%.

But a closer look at the data shows the strongest growth was generally in ring counties — suburban counties located within the nation's largest metro areas.

Among counties with at least 250,000 residents, the top counties for percentage growth were St. Johns County, Florida (located in metro Jacksonville); Hays County, Texas (metro Austin); Williamson County, Texas (metro Austin); and Montgomery County, Texas (metro Houston).

While experts say the Covid-19 migration is largely wrapping up, the trend is expected to have significant long-term effects on a number of metros — particularly when it comes to housing, affordability and the workforce.

That showed in the data, with the largest counties in the nation — the central urban counties of their metro areas — lagging well behind the suburbs and sometimes posting declines.

The primary counties in metro New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Miami and Dallas were among those posting declines between 2020 and 2022, according to the new estimates.

There were some exceptions, such as Hillsborough County, Florida (Tampa); Mecklenburg County, North Carolina (Charlotte); and Maricopa County, Arizona (Phoenix).

The Sunbelt shines again

As with other recent migration data, the Sunbelt dominated the rankings of the top metros for growth.

Eight of the top 15 large counties for population growth between 2020 and 2022 were in Florida. Texas accounted for five of the top 15. 

Richard Florida, urbanist and author, said during our recent Future of Cities event that the Sunbelt’s substantial growth is likely to come back to bite the region on affordability in the years to come. 

“The era of these Covid-related relocations is over,” he said. “Prices have gotten so expensive in these Covid boom towns. … We’re hearing people say, ‘Maybe I have to go back north.’”

Florida said that could create opportunities for places like Pittsburgh, Detroit and Cleveland. 

“You’re beginning to see people think about the Midwest in ways we’ve never thought about before,” he said. 

The Sunbelt’s dominance is also stark when looking at the nation’s 49 largest counties, defined as those with populations of at least 1 million. The Sunbelt accounts for 18 of the top 20 counties of that size in growth, with Collin County, Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, setting the pace. 

Outside of the Sunbelt, mountain towns in the West fared well overall, led by Utah County, Utah; Weld County and Douglas County, Colorado; and Ada County, Idaho. But that growth has led to significant challenges in these communities.

The increased migration coupled with the surge of travelers flooding to mountain resorts and national parks during the Covid-19 recovery and the labor shortages hitting across the nation have put a significant strain on ski towns and other tourism hot spots in the West.

As in many other fast-growing regions, a lack of inventory coupled with surging demand led to drastic increases in housing costs, as well.

“Middle-ground starter homes are simply not there anymore, and if they are, they are not affordable,” said Ellie Staley, executive director at the Downtown Bozeman Partnership in Gallatin County, Montana, where the population grew by 4.4% since 2020.

As we’ve reported, migration patterns will be particularly important in the years to come due to demographic shifts, shrinking birth rates and reduced immigration totals. "


Source: Austin Business Journal 

Written by: Ty West

Published: May 16, 2023


Posted by Grossman & Jones Group on


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