Lee-Collier Population Hits 1 Million

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A million people now live in Lee and Collier counties, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Lee County is among the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the nation, according to Census Bureau information released Thursday.

Lee was the 10th fastest-growing metro area in the country with 2.5 percent growth in the year ending July 1, 2013, and now has an estimated population of more than 660,000 residents.

Collier County, which grew at a 2.1 percent rate during the same period, now has roughly 340,000 residents.

Overall, Lee County ranks 56th and Collier County 95th, respectively, in percentage growth nationwide for counties with 10,000 or more population.

The Villages, home to one of the nation’s largest retirement communities, topped the list of fastest-growing metro areas in the nation. The Villages grew by 5.2 percent and now has a population around 100,000 residents. Sumter County, which is home to The Villages, also was one of the nation’s fastest-growing counties.

The Census Bureau says the South Florida area, made up of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, was the nation’s eighth most populous metropolitan area with 5.8 million residents.

Elsewhere, America’s energy boom is fueling population growth west of the Mississippi River.

Six of the 10 fastest-growing metropolitan areas and eight of the 10 fastest-growing counties in the country are in or near the oil- and gas-rich fields of the Great Plains and Mountain West.

More and more oil and gas drilling is being done in those regions, drawing people from around the nation looking for work, the Census Bureau said.