Three metropolitan areas along South Carolina’s coast are among the fastest-growing areas in the United States.
Newly-released population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show the Myrtle Beach-Conway-N. Myrtle Beach region was the nation’s second-fastest growing metro area from July 2014 to July 2015, with a population increase of 3.5 percent. In fact, it trailed only The Villages, Florida — a metro area near Orlando — and its 4.5 percent growth.
Meanwhile, the Beaufort-Hilton Head-Bluffton metro area was 12th on the list after it grew at a 2.6 percent rate during the same stretch. The Charleston-N. Charleston area posted 2.4 percent growth and was 19th overall. Meanwhile, the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia region, which includes some suburban South Carolina communities, recorded the 17th-largest growth last year.
These rates are percentages, not total raw increases of new residents. For instance, the Census Bureau estimated the Myrtle Beach region grew by 14,700 people last year, which was actually less than Charleston’s state-leading 17,500 new residents. But Myrtle Beach has a much smaller overall population, so growth there was proportionately larger.
The Greenville-Mauldin-Anderson metro area remains the state’s largest, growing at 1.2 percent from 2014. The Columbia metro area grew by 1.3 percent, with its more than 10,000 new residents helping it pass Dayton, Ohio for the United State’s 71st-largest overall metro area. Meanwhile, Charleston caught Little Rock, Arkansas to become the nation’s 75th-largest metro area last year, according to the data.
The report shows the Augusta, GA region, which includes North Augusta and Aiken, grew at 1.2 percent. The Florence region saw a slight decline with 0.1 percent fewer residents.