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Top 12 American Boom-towns….

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Check out what city is #4!

Immigration, despite the tortured national debate emanating from Washington, has always been about people seeking better opportunities. Within U.S. borders, Americans are also in search of a better life, one they may find across state lines. Bloomberg Rankings sorted through U.S. Census data for metropolitan areas to rank those with the greatest population growth, then scored areas on growth in gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation. Combine the two scores and winnow the list to regions with more than 1 million residents, and you have American’s fastest-growing cities.

1. Austin-Round Rock, Texas
Michael Buckner/Getty Images2007 Population: 1,598,161
2011 Population: 1,783,519
Percent Change: 11.60
GDP Compound Annual Growth: 3.26%

Austinites proudly wear T-shirts that say “Keep Austin Weird” — something of a challenge as the city and surrounding areas grow in leaps and bounds. The Austin area, home of the South by Southwest festival and Dell Inc., has an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent, compared with 7.8 percent for the nation. Its population continued to rise in 2012, to 1.8 million, and the area is supposed to generate about 25,000 new jobs in 2013, according to Austin-based Angelou Economics. A high-tech job boost will come from Apple Inc., which is expanding its Austin campus with a new, 1 million-square-foot operations center that will be second in size only to its Cupertino (California) headquarters.

2. New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, Louisiana   
2007 Population: 1,030,363
2011 Population: 1,191,089
Percent Change: 15.60
GDP Compound Annual Growth: 2%

Reporter Geraldo Rivera sparked controversy recently by referring to everything outside New Orleans’s French Quarter as a “vast urban wasteland.” The area is growing as it rebuilds from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Tourism is booming, and the New Orleans area gained more residents than any other in the U.S. from 2007 to 2011. The population rose to 1.2 million in 2012, and there’s plenty of job growth in heavy construction and even the television and motion picture industry, according to New Orleans demographer Allison Plyer. The unemployment rate, at 5.9 percent, is below the national average. One worry: Governor Bobby Jindal’s tax plan could change the state’s motion picture investor tax credit, reducing a key incentive to film in Louisiana.

3. Raleigh-Cary, North Carolina
gbein83/Flickr2007 Population: 1,047,629
2011 Population: 1,163,515
Percent Change: 11.06
GDP Compound Annual Growth: 1.49%

Southern accents are disappearing fast in the Raleigh-Cary metro area, says Robin Dodsworth, a linguistics professor at North Carolina State University. The culprit: the famous Research Triangle Park, which attracts techies — some 40,000 of them now — from all over the world. While many locals lament the demise of the Southern drawl, the economy here is growing, though unemployment stands at 7.5 percent. The population reached about 1.2 million in 2012, as big companies such as International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), Cisco Systems Inc. and Lockheed Martin Corp. employed not just locals but also transplants from around the globe.

4. San Antonio, Texas
2007 Population: 1,990,675
2011 Population: 2,194,927
Percent Change: 10.26
GDP Compound Annual Growth: 1.47%

Think of San Antonio, and images of Spanish missions, the River Walk and the Alamo come to mind. Here, as in most of Texas, the key driver of growth is oil and gas drilling, particularly from the Eagle Ford Shale formation. A strong military presence, which includes Randolph Air Force Base, also supports the economy. As of March, about 2.2 million people were living in the area, and unemployment was 6.1 percent. “This is not a little city anymore,” says Steve Murdock, a professor of sociology at Rice University. “We are the seventh-largest city in the U.S.”



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