The top 10 US boomtowns of 2016


The U.S. economy isn't exactly booming. While the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since 2007, the economy is still growing at a relatively slow pace. Some places, however, are better off than others. For the third year in a row, SmartAsset took a look at the places experiencing rapid population and economic growth. Read on to find out which cities rank at the top of our list.

This is SmartAsset's third annual study of the top 10 boomtowns. Read the 2015 analysis.

Study Specifics

To find the top 10 boomtowns of 2016 we ranked 572 of the largest U.S. cities. We used five different metrics, including the unemployment rate, the GDP growth rate and the net migration rate (the difference between the rate of residents moving in and the rate of residents moving out of a city). We also looked at the housing growth rate and the annual change in the unemployment rate in each city. You'll find our full methodology below.

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Key Findings

  • Oil towns no longer dominate this list. As oil prices have plummeted, many oil towns that were once economic strongholds are struggling to stay afloat. But in cities like Midland, Texas and Bismarck, North Dakota our data indicates that the tide may be turning.

  • Economies are growing on the East Coast. For the first time since we started ranking the top boomtowns in America, four cities that border the Atlantic have made it into the top 10. Following the oil bust, cities in states like North Carolina and Florida have some of the fastest-growing economies in the country.

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SmartAsset collected data on 572 of the largest cities in the country. We used the following five factors that we included in the 2015 edition of our study to find the top 10 boomtowns of 2016:

  • Net migration rate. This is thenumber of people who have immigrated to a particular city minus the number of people who have emigrated from that city between July 1, 2014 and July 1, 2015, as a percentage of the city's total population. The net migration rate looks at all population growth that isn't related to births or deaths.

  • Housing growth rate. This is the percent change in the number of housing units between 2014 and 2015.

  • Unemployment rate. This is the number of jobless individuals who were actively looking for work in August 2016, as a percentage of the total labor force.

  • Annual change in the unemployment rate. This is based on preliminary labor force data from the period ranging from August 2015 to August 2016.

  • GDP growth rate. This is the yearly growth in total output for the period ranging from 2010 to 2015.

We took each metric and calculated a score based on the number of standard deviations above or below the mean each city rated. Then we added up our scores, giving half-weight to the unemployment rate and the annual change in the unemployment rate, and full weight to the other three factors.

We took our standard deviation total and re-ranked each city. The city with the highest total scored a 100 and the city with the lowest total scored a 0.

Data Sources

GDP growth rates come from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Unemployment rates come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Net migration rates and housing growth rates come from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The data analysis for this study was completed by Nick Wallace.

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