Solving Cities

The 5 fastest growing metro areas in America

The 5 fastest growing metro areas in America

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Which cities grew the most?

Musicians have been detailing the decay of the suburbs for decades. According to U.S. Census data, the tipping point might finally be upon us. Urban areas, Eliana Dockterman pointed out in the July 16 issue of TIME, are now growing at a faster pace than neighborhoods with white picket fences.

Historically, the suburbs have been the place where young families find affordable homes. Economic woes and poor job prospects have caused, according to one survey, 77 percent of Millennials to postpone marriage and children.

As Alan Ehrenhalt, author of The Great Inversion, told SmartPlanet in April, other factors may also be at play. The decline of manufacturing, increased safety, and a genuine interest in urban life, he said, are changing the face of the urban environment.

But which cities are growing the most? See our list of the five fastest growing metro areas in America to find out:

5. Raleigh-Cary, North Carolina

Part of North Carolina's Research Triangle, the Raleigh-Cary area boasts one of the most-educated populations in the country. Close proximity to North Carolina mainstays like Duke University, North Carolina State University, and Wake Technical Community College doesn't hurt. This, coupled with employers like GlaxoSmithKline, IBM, Cisco Systems, have helped the area become one of the fastest-growing in the country. Between 2010 and 2011, the region grew by 2.9 percent.

4. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas

Located on the southern end of Texas, the McAllen-Edinburgh-Mission area of Texas has grown substantially in the past two decades thanks in large part to tremendous growth in international trade. The region's access to transportation networks helped trade between the State of Texas and Mexico grom from $28 billion in 1991 to $178.7 billion in 2006. Between 2010 and 2011 alone, the population grew 3 percent, assisted in large part by the area's low cost of living.

3. Hinesville-Fort Stewart, Georgia

Host to the largest Army installation east of the Mississippi, the Hinesville-Fort Stewart area grew 3.4 percent between 2010 and 2011. Over the years, Fort Stewart played an important staging center for American military personnel. From the Cuban Missile Crisis to Operation Iraqi Freedom, thousands of enlisted soldiers and national guardsmen and women pass through the Hinesville-Fort Stewart area each year.

2. Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Texas

Once a college town known for its music scene, Austin's reputation has grown to include film and innovation as well. In addition to the Austin City Limits Music Festival, Austin draws 32,000 people to SXSW, a music, film and digital conference, each spring. Between 2010 and 2011, the region grew by 3.7 percent.

1. Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Washington

With 300 days of sunshine each year, the Washington State's Tri-Cities region also boasts 67 miles of bike trails, 160 wineries, and excellent fishing. Visited by Lewis and Clark in 1804, the area named the 23-mile bike trail along the Columbia River after their intrepid guide Sacajawea. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Kennewick-Pasco-Richland experienced greater expansion than any other metropolitan area. With 4.3 percent growth, it's also the fastest-growing metro area in the country.

[U.S. Census Bureau]

Photos: Steve Wilson/Flickr, Ed Schipul/Flickr, USASOC News Service/Flickr, cyn'thia/Flickr, and Donald Lee Pardue/Flickr

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Claire Lambrecht

Contributing Writer

Claire Lambrecht has written for the New York Times, Slate, Salon, The Nation, and CBS MoneyWatch. Previously, she taught English as a Teach for America Corps Member and Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. She holds degrees from Cornell University, the University of Hawaii, and the Arthur M. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure