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Census: Tampa Bay saw 10th biggest metro population gain in 2017

For the second year in a row, the U.S. Census reports that the bay area region is among the top 10 metropolitan areas gaining residents.

TAMPA — Nearly 55,000 people moved to the Tampa Bay are last year, making it the tenth highest city nationwide in terms of population increase, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The 2017 census estimate places Tampa Bay's population around 3,091,399 after tens of thousands moved here last year, making it the 10th biggest population gain by a metro area in the country.

That is a slight drop for Tampa Bay, which was ranked 7th for biggest population increase in 2016. The census attributes to the drop to a decrease in people moving to Tampa Bay from other states.

The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington region saw the highest growth, with 146,000 people moving to the metro area in 2017. Texas had the most metropolitan areas make the list, with Houston coming in second and Austin ninth.

About 56,000 people moved to the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area last year, earning it the eighth spot on the list.

Officially called the Tampa–St. Petersburg–Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area, the region is comprised of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties.

Here are the full rankings:

Top 10 Largest-Gaining Metropolitan Areas (Numeric Increase): 2016-2017 (U.S. Census Bureau)
Top 10 Largest-Gaining Metropolitan Areas (Numeric Increase): 2016-2017 (U.S. Census Bureau)

The Tampa Bay area's population, already the largest of any metropolitan area in the state, is projected to grow from 3 million last year to 3.1 million this year, then to 3.3 million over the next five years.

Statewide, Florida's population grew by 430,000 new residents to nearly 20.5 million in 2017, boosted by migration from out of state. It is projected to grow another 450,000 this year and is expected to reach 23.3 million over the next five years.

Last year's growth includes an influx of thousands of residents forced out of Puerto Rico by widespread destruction from Hurricane Maria. Whether most of them stay will depend on reconstruction efforts and the pace of economic recovery in Puerto Rico, analysts say.