Here are the nation’s fastest-growing areas in Florida

Florida had four of the five fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country from 2022 to 2023, led by the area that includes The Villages retirement community, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The population in the area that includes The Villages and Wildwood increased by 4.7 percent from July 1, 2022, to July 1, 2023.

The second-fastest growth rate in the country was in the Lakeland and Winter Haven metro area at 3.8 percent.

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The Ocala area was fourth-highest at 3.4 percent, and the Port St. Lucie area was fifth-highest at 3.1 percent, according to the census data.

The only area outside of Florida in the top five was the Myrtle Beach, S.C., area, which grew 3.7 percent.

“The population growth in Florida’s metro areas underscores a larger trend of widespread population growth across the South, the nation’s fastest-growing region and site of all of the top 10 fastest-growing U.S. metro areas from 2022 to 2023,” the U.S. Census Bureau said in announcing the data. “The growth continued a pattern already clear the previous year when eight of the 10 fastest-growing metro areas were in the South.”

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