1. News

Census: Tampa Bay shows fourth highest population growth in nation

ORLANDO — The Tampa Bay area leads the way as three metro areas in Florida were among the nation's 10 biggest gainers in the number of people moving there last year.

In addition, another three were in the top 10 for overall growth rates.

The U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday said the Tampa area had the nation's fourth-highest gain from people moving there last year. Some 58,000 new residents moved there.

South Florida had the nation's seventh highest gain from migration, adding about 48,000 residents who moved there.

Orlando added nearly 47,000 residents through migration, placing it at No. 8.

Those three metro areas also were in the nation's top 10 for overall population growth — which includes natural population increases and migration.

Nationally, the Northeast and Midwest are losing people, while the South and West is gaining.

The 10 counties with the largest gains between July 2015 and July 2016 were largely in the Sunbelt, in Arizona, Texas, Nevada, Washington, California and Florida.

Maricopa County, Ariz., had the largest numeric growth, displacing Harris County, Tx., home to Houston, which had spent the previous eight years in the top slot. Maricopa, which includes Phoenix, was growing steadily before 2007 because of international migration, according to Peter Borsella, a demographer in the Census Bureau's population division.

The counties and metropolitan areas with biggest population losses were mostly in Midwestern and Rust Belt states. Notably, the Chicago area saw a decrease for the second year in a row, its only two years of losses since 1990.

South Florida grew by nearly 65,000 residents from births and migration, and its population stood at more than 6 million last year.

The Tampa area grew to 3 million residents last year, adding 61,000 residents through natural increases and migration. Orlando grew overall by nearly 60,000 residents and had a population of 2.4 million residents last year.

The Villages community northwest of Orlando had the nation's highest overall growth rate last year at 4.3 percent.

Fort Myers had the fifth highest at 3.1 percent. Punta Gorda's 3 percent rate placed it at No. 8.