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Census Data Prove It: We Prefer Sunshine And Golf Carts

If you live in a town still dotted with dirty piles of old snow, this is not going to come as good news:

The U.S. Census Bureau today listed the nation's fastest-growing metro areas. And it turns out, Americans prefer Florida's sunshine, lakes and beaches to your cloudy, cold climes.

Back in December, the bureau announced that Florida's population had grown enough to displace New York as the third-biggest state, after California and Texas. Now its latest metro-area data confirm that Florida's growth is so strong and dispersed that it marks "a significant demographic milestone for our country," Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson said in the release.

Here's what's happening: Baby boomers are retiring and heading south. The single fastest-growing metro area was The Villages, a retirement community west of Orlando. It's famous for its golf carts and courses — and lack of children.

The population there jumped to about 114,000, up 5.4 percent from mid-2013 to mid-2014.

In fact, Florida turned out to have six of the nation's 20 fastest-growing metro areas. That growth has boosted the state's population to nearly 20 million.

The population surge is especially impressive when you consider that a lot of people die in Florida. "Migration to Florida from other states and abroad was heavy enough to overcome the fact that in about half the state's counties, there were more deaths than births over the 2013 to 2014 period," the Census Bureau said.

Other states with strong metro-area growth include the Carolinas and Texas.

And where were people leaving? "Wayne, Mich. (Detroit) remains the county with the largest numeric decline, by far, at just less than 11,000. The next largest decline belonged to Cuyahoga, Ohio (Cleveland) at slightly more than 4,000," the report said.

WBUR's Here & Now discussed the census report on today's show:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Marilyn Geewax is a contributor to NPR.