In the Know: New census data shows Southwest Florida, Polk County among fastest growing in the US

New U.S. Census data shows that two of our metro areas are among…

In the Know: New census data shows Southwest Florida, Polk County among fastest growing in the US 1

Show Caption
Hide Caption

Census: US population growth 2nd lowest in history

The nation’s political center of gravity shifted further to the Republican-led South and West on Monday, with Texas, Florida and other Sun Belt states gaining congressional seats while chillier climes like New York and Ohio lost them. (April 26)


Earlier this week, we reported that Southwest Florida led the state with in-migration during the pandemic.

Now, new U.S. Census data shows that two of our metro areas are among the nine fastest growing in the nation, at least partly fueled by the surge of residents moving from larger cities during the coronavirus crisis.

U.S. Census: Booms in Utah, Idaho buck the curve of slowing US growth

Lee County slotted fifth by swelling 2.5% in 2020 from 2019, and Sarasota placed ninth with 2%, according to a New York Times analysis.

The Austin, Texas area’s 3% led the nation, followed by Boise City, Idaho (2.7%) and Polk County (2.7%), the only other Florida spot in the Top 10, among metros with at least 500,000 people in 2019.

Collier County, which based on this week’s fresh census stats now has 392,973 inhabitants, falls short of that threshold. However, its 1.8% growth compares to the Charleston, South Carolina area that landed 10th on the list with the same percentage. Working off a smaller base, Charlotte County had about a 2.7% pop.

More of In the Know: After another torrid month of home sales, will higher insurance douse SWFL market’s fire?

Lee topped Southwest Florida with an increase of 18,499 for a total of 790,767. Here’s information for the region, which with its 49,790 addition — larger than two cities of Naples — was responsible for about 21% of the state’s overall jump in population, based on In the Know research:

► Lee, 790,767 total; 18,499 rise.

► Sarasota, 443,465; 8,459.

► Manatee, 411,219; 8,242.

► Collier, 392,973; 7,056.

► Charlotte, 194,711; 5,042.

► Highlands, 106,639; 749.

► Hendry, 42,813; 744.

► DeSoto, 38,250; 699.

► Glades, 14,198; 284

► Hardee, 26,822; 16.

► Florida, 21.7 million; 241,256.

Note that the census also revised its 2019 totals. For example, last year, it had Collier’s tally at 384,902. It updated that by more than 1,000 to 385,917.

Southwest and Central Florida are outpacing the rest of the Peninsula.

Disney World’s home of Central Florida including Orange, Lake, Osceola and Polk counties grew 23.7% the past 10 years, according to a review of the newest figures by Florida International University and NBC.

For Southwest Florida, including Lee and Collier, that’s 22.9%. Northeast Florida, including Saint John, Nassau and Duval, 16.3%. And South Florida (Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade), 10.8%.

In the Know found that in the decade, Lee has gained almost 175,000 from 618,754; Collier more than 70,000 from 321,520; Sarasota, just under 65,000 from 379,448; and Charlotte, about 35,000 from 159,978.

Look for more census news and other coverage in the Naples Daily News, The News-Press and the rest of the USA TODAY NETWORK in the coming days and weeks.

Based at the Naples Daily News, Columnist Phil Fernandez ( writes In the Know as part of the USA TODAY NETWORK. Support Democracy and subscribe to a newspaper.


Enjoy our news? Please spread the word :)