For Southwest Florida, “this year really stands out,” said Rob Bernstein, a public affairs specialist with the Census Bureau, which released the annual statistics Thursday.

The new figures show Cape Coral-Fort Myers ranked sixth in the nation in terms of population growth from 2013 to 2014. That represents 18,177 new citizens, an uptick of 2.7 percent from a year earlier.

Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island area ranked tenth. Its population grew by 8,671, a bump up of 2.5 percent.

Bernstein said the rankings showed “a pretty notable rise” from previous years.
In 2012-2013, Cape-Coral Fort Myers ranked 11th, and the year before that 23rd. Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island ranked 20th in 2012-2013 and 60th in 2011-2012.

The bureau tracks 381 metro areas in the United States and seven in Puerto Rico.
Statewide, the state has picked up about 300,000 new residents in the past year, said Stefan Rayer, a professor with the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Florida.

People moving from the frozen north — especially the Northeast — are largely responsible for the population increase, both in Southwest Florida and throughout the rest of the state, he said.