Olympia area among nation’s fastest-growing, according to census

High home prices in King County may be fueling growth

By Andy Hobbs

The Olympian

The Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater region is considered one of the nation’s top 25 fastest-growing metropolitan areas, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report.

The area ranks 23rd on the list, which measures the percentage of population increase between July 1, 2015, and July 1, 2016.

The census statistics include the entire population of Thurston County, and reports an increase from 269,183 residents in 2015 to a population of 275,222 people in 2016 — a difference of about 2.24 percent.

The Olympia area finished just ahead of Charleston-North Charleston area in South Carolina (24th) and the Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise area in Nevada (25th).

The top spot on the list: The Villages in Sumter County, Florida, which saw a 4.3 percent population increase from 118,882 people in 2015 to about 123,996 people in 2016.

It’s no secret that the Puget Sound region is a fast-growing area. King County is listed fourth in the top 10 largest-gaining counties based on pure numerical population change. King County added 35,714 people (1.69 percent increase) from July 1, 2015, to July 1, 2016. The top county on this list was Maricopa County, Arizona, which grew by 81,360 people in that time period.

Some of the population growth in Thurston County is believed to have come from King County, where the median home price is about $560,000, according to recent data from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The median home price in Thurston County is about $267,500, while the median home price in neighboring Pierce County is about $280,000.

Other factors include job growth. Thurston County added about 3,500 jobs in the past year, while Pierce County has added about 7,400 jobs, according to the state Employment Security Department.

The Seattle Times recently reported that Pierce and Snohomish counties were ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the nation, respectively, in the number of new residents moving in from other counties.