Charlotte is once again among the top three fastest growing big cities in the country, and the city's suburbs are growing fast, too. The city of Charlotte remained the 17th largest city in the nation with nearly 860,000 people as of July 2017, according to U.S. Census estimates released this week. Only two other Top 25 cities - Seattle and Fort Worth, Tex. - surpassed Charlotte's 1.8 percent growth rate.
And growth in the suburbs was just as strong. Fort Mill, S.C., was the No. 1 fastest growing town with a population of more than 15,000. Fort Mill added 2,400 people for a nearly 16% growth rate during the year.
In real terms, that means Charlotte welcomed 15,551 new residents - either people moving here or being born here - this year. That ranks No. 7 among all cities and faster than Denver (9,844), Washington (9,636), San Francisco (8,260), New York (7,272) and Boston (6,664). Charlotte's growth pattern was similar to Columbus, Ohio, a city of 879,000 which added slightly less than 15,500 people.
Newcomers seeking lower cost of living and higher quality of life are driving the continued growth of Charlotte. The city's larger geographic footprint than many older industrial cities, where most growth occurs in the suburbs, is also a factor in the ranking. And while more people are still settling within the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, a booming housing market has shifted some growth to the suburbs. In 2017, the City of Charlotte's growth accounted for about 32 percent of the total metro area's growth of 49,000 people. In 2012, the city accounted for 49 percent of the metro area's growth.
Southern and Western cities showed the largest gains, while two Midwestern cities - Detroit and Chicago - lost population. Broadening the scope to all cities of 50,000 or more, Midwestern cities such as Illinois and Ohio - despite the the success of Columbus - were hard-hit with population loses. Cities in Deep South states such as Mississippi and Louisiana also lost population.
Other towns and cities in the Charlotte area also showed strong growth. Concord added 2,300 people, a 2.6% rise; Gastonia added 1,468 people (+2%) and Huntersville added nearly 1,100 (+1.9%). Across the border, Rock Hill, S.C., added 900 people (+1.3%). Two North Carolina cities in this category lost population - Fayetteville and Rocky Mount - lost population