by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The majority of the nation’s population growth, 51 percent, has occurred in the 27 major metro areas which have grown faster than the national average. They contained 22 percent of total population in 2000 and 26 percent in 2014.
This hasn’t just been a movement from the Snow Belt to the Sun Belt. Population growth in California’s two megalopolises, Los Angeles and San Francisco, has been below the national average. Immigrants are still moving in, but high housing prices resulting from environmental restrictions have been prompting Americans to move out. …
… Even in the Rust Belt, Indianapolis and Columbus, state capitals with large universities and research industries, have grown far faster than the national average (29 and 24 percent). Two metro areas with similar assets, Raleigh and Austin, were the fastest-growing in the country (56 and 55 percent), followed by Las Vegas (52 percent), whose explosive growth dropped way off with the housing bust. …
… Consider Texas, with the nation’s biggest population boom. Its two largest metro areas, Dallas and Houston, produced 10 percent of total U.S. population growth in the 21st century. Add in San Antonio and Austin and you have 13 percent of national growth—4.9 million of 37.4 million.
Florida, which in 2014 passed New York as the nation’s third most populous state, has four major metro areas—Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville—which account for another 6 percent of U.S. growth.
Texas and Florida have business-friendly public policies and no state income taxes—undoubtedly contributors to growth. There’s above average growth in other major metros in other no-income-tax states—Nashville, Las Vegas, Seattle. There is vigorous growth also in Phoenix and Denver, Atlanta and Charlotte. But government also helped spur growth, in state capitals and in Washington (26 percent), the only fast-growing Northeastern metro.