Hillsborough County added 30,725 people in the year ended July 1, pushing the county’s population to nearly 1.35 million people.
The growth spurt of 2.33 percent for the year was second only to Orange County’s among the state’s population centers. Home to tourist meccas Disney World and Universal Studios, Orange County added 31,631 people for a growth rate of 2.51 percent.
The new figures, released by the U.S. Census Bureau, showed Hillsborough’s population surge was driven by a net in-migration of 23,205 people, of which 14,687 came from other U.S. states and territories.
Another 8,518 people came to Florida from other countries.
The rest of the population growth was from an increase in births over deaths of 6,423.
The Tampa Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes St. Petersburg and Clearwater, grew by 57,412 people, 13th in the nation behind metropolitan areas including Houston and Dallas at No. 1 and No. 2 and Orlando at No. 10.
The newest numbers, released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau, reinforce contentions among local authorities that the Tampa Bay area has dramatically rebounded from the recession and is becoming a destination for snow-weary residents of the Midwest and Northeast.
“We have sports teams, we have the weather and sunshine,” said County Commission Chairman Les Miller. “The people who live in the Midwest and Northeast have had terrible winters. We’re sitting here with green grass. They look at it and say, ‘We’re moving.’ ”
Miller said planners have estimated the county’s population will grow by half a million people in 25 years. But if the current growth rate continues, Hillsborough’s population could reach 2 million people much sooner.
“I kept saying it was going to be more like 15 years. This indicates that’s going to happen,” Miller said. “That means in 10 years, we’re going to (add) 300,000. That’s faster than any demographers anticipated.”
Suburban Pasco County, adjoining Hillsborough to the north, added 12,269 during the same period for a growth rate of 2.52 percent. The county had a net migration increase of 12,976 people but had a negative rate of natural increase, with 812 more deaths than births.
The same held true for Pinellas County, where the population grew by 11,683 people for a growth rate of 1.24 percent. Pinellas had a net in-migration of 14,089, also balanced by a negative rate of natural increase: 3,358 more people died than were born there.