ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Sure, Florida’s got sunshine, beaches and palm trees. But the driving force behind it being home to many of the nation’s fastest-growing cities has been the return of hospitality, trade and construction jobs.
New figures released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau showed Florida was home to six of the nation’s 20 fastest-growing metro areas from July 1, 2013, to July 1, 2014.
During that time, the FLORIDA added another 192,000 people and surpassed New York to become the nation’s third most-populous state with 19.9 million residents. Only California and Texas have more people.
“Part of the population growth is everybody is coming back since there are jobs aplenty and construction is on fire,” said Jeff Briggs, planning manager for the City of Winter Park, one of the most affluent communities in metro Orlando.
The Villages retirement community located northwest of Orlando was the nation’s fastest-growing metro area last year with a 5.4 percent increase that raised the population to 114,000 residents.
The community is known for its golf carts, which are used almost as much as cars and for the sometimes frisky behavior of its 55-and-older residents.
“It’s always hectic in The Villages,” said Paula Roberts, an office manager for Ronnie’s Plumbing, which services The Villages. “The traffic can be bad, bumper to bumper, especially when the snowbirds are down here.”
The other Florida metro areas in the top 20 were Fort Myers, Naples, Orlando, Sarasota and Panama City. Of those metro areas, Sarasota, Fort Myers and Naples .
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