Marion Avenue construction

A construction worker is surrounded by dust in the air as he uses a grinding wheel on concrete, while working at a residential construction site off Marion Avenue in Punta Gorda.

Charlotte County is one of the top regions in the nation for population growth, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report.

Sarasota County and its municipalities are also growing, but not at the same clip.

The Punta Gorda Metropolitan Statistic Area, which includes Charlotte County, ranked No. 4 for population growth between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021, according to the the bureau’s “Vintage 2021” estimates of population and components of change, released March 24.

The report shows that Charlotte County’s population grew from 187,960 to 194,843 (3.7%) from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021.

The census statistics were based on population estimates and components of change for the nation’s 384 metropolitan statistical areas.

“Charlotte County is still the biggest bargain on the Gulf Coast when it comes to real estate,” Charlotte County Communications Manager Brian Gleason said.

The median home sales price in February 2022 was $389,000, according to Gleason.

In Cape Coral and Fort Myers, the median price was $410,000. The median price was $458,000 in North Port and Sarasota, and $700,000 in Naples.

“We foresee growth continuing based on existing developments already underway and projects in the planning and development pipeline,” Gleason added. “We have large residential projects in every region of the county from Babcock Ranch to West Port, and in Murdock Village to the Cape Haze peninsula in West County.

“Infill home construction in established neighbors is also happening everywhere.”

Development in Punta Gorda also continues to grow despite available space running out.

“The city is currently approaching 94% build out and has had a 50% increase in building permits,” said City Communications Manager Melissa Reichert. “This is somewhat limiting of future growth but the city also grows through annexation when a property owner and the city determine that it is mutually beneficial.”

“Punta Gorda is one of Florida’s most relaxed, peaceful communities,” she added. “With a historic ambiance and intimate feeling, it’s a small town that seems more like a neighborhood.”

The St. George MSA in Utah earned No. 1 in the report, showing an increase of 181,924 to 191,226 (5.1%).

The Cape Coral-Fort Myers MSA ranked ninth, increasing from 764,679 to 787,976 (3.0%), followed by the Logan MSA — consisting of two counties in Utah and Idaho — with an increase of 147,796 to 152,083 (2.9%).

The census bureau found that 251 of 384 (65%) of the MSAs within the 50 states and the District of Columbia experienced a population increase between 2020 and 2021.

The North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton MSA did not rank on the bureau’s Top 10 metro areas for growth.

Of the 384 metro areas, however, they did rank third in the nation for having a natural decrease of 6,643 residents between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021.

Natural decrease is when more deaths occur than births in a population over a given time period.

Sarasota County spokesperson Brianne Grant said the county has not experienced a population decrease but actually grew as a result of net migration.

“The census report is referring to ‘natural increase (or decrease)’ which is the relationship between deaths and births and how that affects population growth,” she said.

The census bureau lists the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton MSA with a population of 821,613 as of 2020.

Sarasota County’s population for 2021 makes up around 441,500 permanent residents, according to a Sarasota County demographic report.

During the winter months, the population gets an additional estimated 96,000 season residents.

“We have for decades had a high natural decrease (more deaths than births) so that is not news,” Grant said. “Our influx of people moving here makes up for the negative decrease.”

From 2010 to 2020, Sarasota County reports a net migration of 79,984 residents. Totals from 2020 to 2021 were not available.

In North Port, data from the University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research — an applied research center — show a population estimate of 78,129.

“That number has been rising, not lowering,” said North Port Public Information Officer Joshua Taylor. “If you ask most people in our area this time of year, it sure doesn’t seem like there are less people.”

Taylor added that thousands of new homes are being built in the area.

“The lack of home options continues to be a major point of concern for most local areas,” he said.


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