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Fracking and Retirees Drive U.S. Population Growth

A crude oil drill rig in the distance of a single-family home under construction in Williston, North Dakota
A crude oil drill rig in the distance of a single-family home under construction in Williston, North DakotaPhotograph by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Welcome to 21st-century America, in which population growth trends are driven by baby boomers packing into Florida retirement enclaves and workers chasing the fracking boom from North Dakota to Texas.

That’s the quick sketch, at least, that comes out of new population data from the U.S. Census, which track growth between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013. The Villages, a collection of central Florida retirement communities northwest of Orlando, topped the charts as the nation’s fastest-growing metropolitan area, with a 5.2 percent gain. That far outpaced the U.S. average of 0.7 percent growth. Midland and Odessa, in western Texas, followed at 3.3 percent each. Both cities have seen an employment boom in recent years amid new techniques to extract oil and natural gas.