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The 10 Metro Areas That Jumped the Most in Population Rankings From 2015 to 2016

Apr. 4, 2017

A LawnStarter analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data indicates 10 metro areas — all of them with fewer than 220,000 residents — impressively leapfrogged other metros to jump at least five spots in the 2016 population rankings.  The biggest mover on the ranking chart was Sebastian-Vero Beach, climbing up nine steps in the rankings — going from the 280th largest metro area in 2015 to the 271st largest in 2016.

“The majority of the growth there since 2010 has been retirees, and it’s likely that is what’s fueling the recent spike in growth,” says Rich Doty, a research demographer at the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.  Aside from bragging rights, what does it mean for Sebastian-Vero Beach (or any other metro area) to soar in the population rankings?  Doty says a higher population ranking could be used by economic development boosters to market the region.

Helene Caseltine, economic development director at the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce in Vero Beach, says the region has not experienced “explosive” growth like other areas of Florida have. But the one-county metro is attracting its fair share of new arrivals. “Many of those who move into our county are those who have previously vacationed here or have family here, primarily from the Northeast,” Caseltine says.  “And as more baby boomers enter retirement, they like the easy and laid-back lifestyle offered in Indian River County. Plus our cost of living is much lower than the areas from where they’ve relocated.”  Some of the people who are relocating to Sebastian-Vero Beach left after high school or college but are migrating back after “realizing that Indian River County is a great place to raise a family,” Caseltine says.

As noted by, “Sebastian and Vero Beach are among the few remaining Florida East Coast places maintaining a small-town flavor not overly tilted towards tourists or retirees.”


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