COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Columbus is one of the nation’s fastest-growing large metropolitan areas and the fastest in the Midwest, according to the latest population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week.

Among the 51 metro areas that the bureau estimated to have more than 1 million people in 2020, Columbus ranked 17th in population growth since 2010.

The 10-county area centered around Franklin County increased its population by more than 230,000 to reach an estimated 2,138,946 last year, an increase of 12.2% over 10 years.

Rank (of 51)U.S. metro (>1 million)% change ’10-’20
1.Raleigh, NC24.88%
16.Portland, OR12.45%
17.Columbus, OH12.20%
18.Washington, DC11.37%
51.Pittsburgh, PA-2.03%
Source: U.S. Census Bureau estimates

The fastest-growing large U.S. metros last decade were Raleigh, North Carolina (+24.88%); Orlando, Florida (+23.38%); and Dallas (+20.37%).

With a 10-year increase of 47.44%, The Villages, Florida, population 139,018, grew the most of all 263 metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) the Census Bureau tracks. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Greeley, Colorado, increased more than 30%.

Among all metros, Columbus ranked 59th in population growth since 2010 and 94th since 2019 (+0.63%).

Leading large Midwest metros

Last year’s population estimates were produced “without incorporation or consideration of the 2020 census results,” which have only been released for state totals. Official and more granular data from the census will be given to states for legislative redistricting by Aug. 16.

In population growth since 2010, Columbus led the 12 large metros in the Midwest, which the bureau defines as 12 states roughly from Ohio to Kansas to North Dakota. NBC4 defined Midwest metros as those with a title city in a Midwest state (ex. Metro Louisville, Kentucky, includes Jeffersonville, Indiana).

RankMidwest metro (>1 million)% change ’10-’20
1.Columbus, OH12.20%
2.Indianapolis, IN10.48%
3.Minneapolis, MN9.50%
4.Grand Rapids, MI8.76%
5.Kansas City, MO7.94%
6.Louisville, KY5.34%
7.Cincinnati, OH4.29%
8.Milwaukee, WI1.35%
9.St. Louis, MO0.55%
10.Detroit, MI0.30%
11.Chicago, IL-0.68%
12.Cleveland, OH-1.53%
Source: U.S. Census Bureau estimates. Midwest includes OH, MI, IN, IL, WI, MN, IA, MO, ND, SD, NE, KS.

The Columbus MSA’s 10 counties are Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Hocking, Licking, Madison, Morrow, Perry, Pickaway and Union.

Columbus ranked fifth among the 70 Midwest metros of any size in 2010-2020 population growth, behind Fargo, North Dakota; Des Moines and Iowa City, Iowa; and Rapid City, South Dakota. Columbus ranked ninth in growth since 2019.

Other Ohio metros are shrinking

While the center of the state expands, smaller areas of Ohio that closer fit the “Rust Belt” moniker continue to lose population during a decades-long deindustrialization around the Great Lakes.

Among the 70 Midwest metros, Youngstown and Steubenville had the two largest drops in population share last decade, dipping 5.9% and 7.35%, respectively. The bottom 25, all of which lost population, also included Akron, Toledo, Cleveland, Canton, Mansfield, Springfield and Lima.

Ten of the 13 metro areas that include Ohio have lost population since 2010.

Ohio rankMetro% change ’10-’20U.S. rank (of 263)
11.Huntington, WV-4.57%251
Source: U.S. Census Bureau estimates. NBC4 defined Ohio metros as those that include Ohio in the title.

Cleveland was one of six U.S. metros over 1 million people to lose population over the past decade, joining Chicago; Buffalo, New York; Hartford, Connecticut; Rochester, New York; and Pittsburgh.

The Midwest was the nation’s slowest-growing region in the last 10 years. Its population increased just 3.1%, according to official numbers from the census, while the U.S grew 7.4%.

That nationwide growth, however, was still the second-slowest on record, just beating 7.3% during the Great Depression.