- Select a topic to scroll directly to it:
- The boomtowns: America’s fastest-growing cities
- The not-so-much boomtowns: America’s slowest-growing cities
- The full list of America’s fastest-growing cities
Checkr analyzed data from all 381 US metro areas to uncover the fastest-growing cities in America. Join us as we dive into the key factors that make these American boomtowns some of the most desirable places to live and work in the country.
In recent years, the United States has experienced a significant degree of economic uncertainty, with far-reaching implications for businesses, consumers, and the cities they call home.
Factors such as housing instability, workforce layoffs, and a potential recession contributed to a climate of unpredictability, challenging the stability and confidence in the nation’s economy and the growth of cities across the country.
Additionally, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic brought about unprecedented disruptions, leading to widespread job losses, business closures, and financial volatility.
Through all of these hardships, certain US cities have grown exponentially, while others have struggled to develop and attract new residents and jobs. Some cities have grown so fast that they’ve been labeled “boomtowns.”
A boomtown refers to a city that experiences rapid economic growth and development within a relatively short period. These cities and towns often undergo a significant population increase and witness a surge in economic activity due to various factors, which we’ll discuss shortly.
Boomtowns typically attract large numbers of people seeking employment and entrepreneurial prospects, leading to a rapid expansion of infrastructure, housing, and services to accommodate the growing population.
Checkr compiled this list to bring to light cities across the country that are best fit for businesses looking to start up or expand, and for individuals seeking a new home with great opportunities for employment. That said, if a business owner is looking to expand, relocate, or start a new venture, a boomtown might be a good place to learn more about. Additionally, if an individual is looking for a place for higher wages and better employment opportunities, perhaps a boomtown might be for them.
To showcase the boomtowns filled with opportunity, Checkr crunched the numbers using data sourced from the US Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
We dug into 10 critical factors about 381 US metro areas—the total number of metro areas as identified by the US Census Bureau. Each of the following 10 key factors was weighted appropriately and scaled, and then we calculated the weighted sum of the factors to obtain a final Boomtown Score—the lower the score the better—using the metrics below.
- Population growth
- GDP growth
- Unemployment rate
- Workforce growth
- Poverty rate
- Housing unit growth
- Real personal income growth
- Change in median age
- Change in the total number of businesses
- Percentage of high-earning residents (making more than $100,000)
Now that we’ve revealed the key factors, let’s check out some of the important findings.
The boomtowns: America’s fastest-growing cities
Let’s start by looking at the biggest boomtowns in America—also known as the fastest-growing, quickest-developing cities in the country.
The boomtowns: America’s fastest-growing cities
Above you’ll see that Provo, Utah tops the list as America’s biggest boomtown, boasting the best Boomtown Score of 37—a result of Provo’s fantastic rankings for key metrics such as GDP growth (#4), number of businesses added (#2), and labor force growth (#6).
Joining Provo on the top-10 list were three additional Utah cities—St. George, 5th overall; Logan, 8th overall; and Ogden, 9th overall. Clearly, Utah has seen some fantastic growth over the past 5 years in both population and economic development.
Why? Utah has fostered a business-friendly environment that has attracted companies from various industries, including technology, finance, healthcare, and outdoor recreation. This has led to job opportunities and a steady influx of professionals and skilled workers seeking employment in these thriving sectors.
Alongside Utah, other cities in the top 10 are two high-ranking Idaho destinations—Boise City, 2nd overall, and Coeur d’Alene, 3rd overall. A combination of strong economic opportunities, top-ranking quality of life, and a lower cost of living has allowed these Idaho cities the opportunity to flourish in attracting new residents.
Rounding out the top 10 are Bend, Oregon, 4th overall; Destin, Florida, 6th overall; tech-favorite Austin, Texas, 7th overall; and Reno, Nevada, 10th overall.
Here’s an additional quick snapshot of the top 10 boomtowns:
- Provo, UT
- Boise City, ID
- Coeur d’Alene, ID
- Bend, OR
- St. George, UT
- Destin, FL
- Austin, TX
- Logan, UT
- Ogden, UT
- Reno, NV
For individuals and businesses on the lookout for opportunities in new cities, this top 10 list would be a great place to start along with the rest of the top 25 list featured in the graphic above.
Next, let’s review the cities that fall on the other side of the boomtown spectrum—the slowest-growing cities in America.
The not-boomtowns: America’s slowest-growing cities
We’ve learned why certain cities in the US are booming and experiencing economic and population growth. But why are some cities flourishing while others are struggling to grow?
Several factors should be considered here: Economic investment, demographic trends, environmental constraints, social and political instability, market conditions, and climate, among others.
It’s equally important to recognize that each city’s growth potential is influenced by a unique combination of factors, and addressing the challenges requires a comprehensive approach that involves collaboration between government, private sector entities, and the community to identify and overcome barriers to growth.
Let’s map out the cities that are either growing much slower or struggling to grow at all when compared to the previously discussed boomtowns.
The not-so-much boomtowns: America’s slowest-growing cities
The graphic above shows Decatur, Illinois as the slowest-growing city in the country. Additional research shows that Decatur lacks high-quality manufacturing jobs, and there is a “trickle-down effect.” David Wilson, a professor of Geography and Urban Planning at the University of Illinois believes “the jobs replacing the manufacturing jobs are service industry jobs and, in many ways, do not provide a living wage.” The research indicates that economic factors and job opportunities are contributing to the city’s position as the lowest-ranked city on the list.
Joining Decatur in the bottom 5 are Shreveport, Louisiana; Lima, Ohio; Lawton, Oklahoma; and Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.
For Shreveport, specifically, one major limiting factor was COVID-19 and the impact that the pandemic had on gaming and casinos. Reporting immediately following the start of the pandemic, the Shreveport Times said that “the unthinkable happened during the stay-at-home order—casinos went dark. No gaming. No buffets. No concerts. Six area casinos were closed. DiamondJacks never reopened.”
Rounding out the bottom 10 on the list of slower-growing cities are Pine Bluff, Arkansas; Champaign, Illinois; Erie, Pennsylvania; Beaumont, Texas; and St. Joseph, Missouri.
Here’s an additional quick snapshot of the cities on the bottom of the list of boomtowns:
- Decatur, IL
- Shreveport, LA
- Lima, OH
- Lawton, OK
- Bloomsburg, PA
- Pine Bluff, AR
- Champaign, IL
- Erie, PA
- Beaumont, TX
- St. Joseph, MO
These low-ranking cities are all struggling for different reasons, but economic hardship is a common theme. From population loss in Erie and Beaumont to the labor force issues in Decatur, each city is struggling currently but ultimately hopes to regain its footing and prosper in the coming years.
Finally, let’s look at the full rundown of all the 381 metro areas and how they stack up in terms of the fastest-growing boomtowns and slower-developing not-so-much booming cities across the country.
The full list of America’s fastest-growing cities
|Rank||Metro Area||Boomtown Score|
|1||Provo-Orem, UT Metro Area||37|
|2||Boise City, ID Metro Area||47|
|3||Coeur d’Alene, ID Metro Area||52|
|4||Bend, OR Metro Area||54|
|5||St. George, UT Metro Area||55|
|6||Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL Metro Area||56|
|7||Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX Metro Area||61|
|8||Logan, UT-ID Metro Area||68|
|9||Ogden-Clearfield, UT Metro Area||73|
|10||Reno, NV Metro Area||74|
|11||North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL Metro Area||76|
|12||Fort Collins, CO Metro Area||77|
|13||Idaho Falls, ID Metro Area||78|
|14||Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metro Area||79|
|15||Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL Metro Area||81|
|16||Huntsville, AL Metro Area||82|
|17||Jacksonville, FL Metro Area||82|
|18||Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL Metro Area||84|
|19||Salt Lake City, UT Metro Area||84|
|20||Raleigh-Cary, NC Metro Area||86|
|21||Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ Metro Area||86|
|22||Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN Metro Area||87|
|23||Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater, WA Metro Area||87|
|24||The Villages, FL Metro Area||89|
|25||Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Metro Area||92|
|26||Stockton, CA Metro Area||96|
|27||Punta Gorda, FL Metro Area||97|
|28||Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metro Area||97|
|29||Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL Metro Area||97|
|30||Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL Metro Area||99|
|31||Ocala, FL Metro Area||99|
|32||Midland, TX Metro Area||99|
|33||Pocatello, ID Metro Area||101|
|34||Colorado Springs, CO Metro Area||101|
|35||Durham-Chapel Hill, NC Metro Area||101|
|36||Gainesville, FL Metro Area||102|
|37||Sioux Falls, SD Metro Area||104|
|38||Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metro Area||105|
|39||Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL Metro Area||105|
|40||Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA Metro Area||109|
|41||Greeley, CO Metro Area||110|
|42||Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metro Area||111|
|43||Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL Metro Area||111|
|44||Longview, WA Metro Area||113|
|45||Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA Metro Area||113|
|46||Jacksonville, NC Metro Area||113|
|47||Wilmington, NC Metro Area||114|
|48||Sherman-Denison, TX Metro Area||116|
|49||Kennewick-Richland, WA Metro Area||116|
|50||Morristown, TN Metro Area||119|
|51||Prescott Valley-Prescott, AZ Metro Area||120|
|52||Jackson, TN Metro Area||123|
|53||Naples-Marco Island, FL Metro Area||123|
|54||Hilton Head Island-Bluffton, SC Metro Area||124|
|55||Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN Metro Area||125|
|56||Salem, OR Metro Area||126|
|57||Gainesville, GA Metro Area||126|
|58||Port St. Lucie, FL Metro Area||126|
|59||Charleston-North Charleston, SC Metro Area||128|
|60||Bellingham, WA Metro Area||128|
|61||Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL Metro Area||129|
|62||Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA Metro Area||129|
|63||Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC Metro Area||129|
|64||Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR Metro Area||130|
|65||Portland-South Portland, ME Metro Area||131|
|66||Auburn-Opelika, AL Metro Area||131|
|67||Abilene, TX Metro Area||133|
|68||Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA Metro Area||136|
|69||Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL Metro Area||137|
|70||Dover, DE Metro Area||139|
|71||Savannah, GA Metro Area||139|
|72||Burlington, NC Metro Area||140|
|73||Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metro Area||142|
|74||Hammond, LA Metro Area||142|
|75||Vallejo, CA Metro Area||142|
|76||Sumter, SC Metro Area||144|
|77||Clarksville, TN-KY Metro Area||144|
|78||San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX Metro Area||145|
|79||Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA Metro Area||145|
|80||Grand Junction, CO Metro Area||146|
|81||Asheville, NC Metro Area||146|
|82||Tyler, TX Metro Area||147|
|83||Killeen-Temple, TX Metro Area||148|
|84||Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ Metro Area||148|
|85||Manchester-Nashua, NH Metro Area||149|
|86||Carson City, NV Metro Area||151|
|87||Albany-Lebanon, OR Metro Area||151|
|88||Greenville-Anderson, SC Metro Area||152|
|89||Fayetteville, NC Metro Area||152|
|90||Wenatchee, WA Metro Area||152|
|91||Missoula, MT Metro Area||153|
|92||Columbus, OH Metro Area||153|
|93||Boulder, CO Metro Area||153|
|94||Rochester, MN Metro Area||156|
|95||Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV Metro Area||157|
|96||Madison, WI Metro Area||158|
|97||Ames, IA Metro Area||158|
|98||Bremerton-Silverdale-Port Orchard, WA Metro Area||158|
|99||Jonesboro, AR Metro Area||160|
|100||Athens-Clarke County, GA Metro Area||160|
To download the full list of 381 metro areas, rankings, and scores, click here.
For more information on Check’s research or to request graphics, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
To rank America’s biggest boomtowns, Checkr analyzed 10 key factors from the US Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The factors include population growth, GDP growth, unemployment rate, workforce growth, poverty rate, housing unit growth, real personal income growth, change in median age, change in the total number of businesses, and percentage of full-time workers making above $100,000. Each factor was weighted and scaled appropriately by Checkr resulting in the final rankings of America’s biggest boomtowns.
The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We advise you to consult your own counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.
About the author
Sara Korolevich serves as checkr.com’s editor and content manager. In this role, she produces educational resources for employers on a broad range of screening topics, including background check compliance and best practices. She also writes about Checkr’s company and product news to keep customers updated and informed.