Fastest growing counties in the U.S.

oswego_il.top.jpgThe bedroom communities of Kendall County, Ill., such as Oswego, tend to draw residents who work in Chicago but want more living space. By Les Christie, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The fastest growing large county in the United States is not in a trendy Sun Belt state. It's in Illinois, a member in good standing of the Rust Belt.

Kendall County, Ill., a far-flung suburb of Chicago, grew nearly 100% in the last nine years, according to a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau. The county went from a population of 54,563 on April 1, 2000, to an estimated 104,821 last July 1.

The county has been transitioning from an agricultural area to a bedroom community -- albeit one far from the main job center. "It's a wonderful place to live with excellent schools and a very low crime rate," said Anne Vickery, a member of the Kendall County Board. "But you're going to have to travel to get to Chicago."

The more than 300-square-mile county is still 60% devoted to agriculture, but when the housing boom was at its height, that farmland was disappearing rapidly and sold for as much as $75,000 an acre.

"We had a lot of rich farmers from selling off land and a lot who wished they had sold," Vickery said.

Land prices have come down in the bust to more like $12,000 an acre today.

Of course, with the boom comes the bust: The county has has the highest foreclosure rate in the state, according to RealtyTrac, the online marketer of foreclosed homes.

In May, Kendall homeowners endured 79 bank repossessions and a total of 280 foreclosure filings, according to RealtyTrac, the online marketer of foreclosed properties. That represented one of every 124 households, the highest foreclosure rate in Illinois.

The county's biggest employer is Caterpillar, but most of the highest earners work elsewhere. Many of them moved to Kendall because of lower home prices. Today, buyers can easily find newer, large homes on the market with five bedrooms and three baths, a two-car garage on a large lot for under $350,000.

"People came here because they could get more for less," said Vickery.

Since the national economy soured, the county's population growth has slowed, to 3.3% from July 1 2008 to July 1 2009, less than half its average annual growth rate of 7.5% since 2000.

Job losses have piled up, too. The official unemployment rate hit 11% in April from from 9.8% 12 months earlier. That's more than a percentage point above the national average and slightly more than that of the Chicago metro area, which stood at 10.7%.

Other fast growers

Most of the fastest growing counties are, like Kendall, relatively distant from the city centers of major metropolitan areas. These are areas where many workers were willing to move because they offered big new homes on large lots for comparatively reasonable prices.

The second fastest grower, for example, Pinal County, Ariz., where the population grew 90% between April 1, 2000, and July 1, 2009, lies about 40 miles south of Phoenix. When developers started to run short on large tracts closer to the city, they bought up acreage there.

The third fastest grower during the 2000s, Rockwall, Texas (89%), is an outer-ring Dallas suburb. Loudon County, Va. (78%), is well outside Washington D.C.'s beltway. Flagler County, Fla., (84%) is about 60 miles away from the nearest major metro area, Jacksonville.

Other fast growers include Forsyth County and Paulding County, both in Georgia; Lincoln County, S.D.; Williamson County, Texas; and Douglas County Colo.

The population increase calculations are more than an idle exercise in data collecting. Once the actual census count is completed this year, these counties will be in line for big jumps in government money, pointed out Census Bureau Director Robert Groves.

"Census numbers govern the distribution of more than $400 billion in federal funds each year and serve as the baseline for future post-census population estimates," he said. To top of page


Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.99%4.00%
15 yr fixed3.06%3.11%
5/1 ARM3.20%3.20%
30 yr refi4.00%4.09%
15 yr refi3.08%3.20%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,827.75 12.81 0.07%
Nasdaq 4,787.32 29.07 0.61%
S&P 500 2,072.83 5.80 0.28%
Treasuries 2.23 -0.03 -1.15%
Data as of 12:50pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Kinder Morgan Inc 42.32 0.00 0.00%
Apple Inc 119.00 0.00 0.00%
Facebook Inc 77.62 1.99 2.63%
Pfizer Inc 31.10 0.00 0.00%
Bank of America Corp... 17.11 0.00 0.00%
Data as of Nov 26

Sections

The European Parliament has voted to break up Google and weaken its dominance across the region. More

At malls and department stores across America, the faithful are lining up and camping out for deals. More

Two pilots encountered drones while flying over college football games and another pilot saw one while flying over the Hollywood sign. More

Natalie's Cakes and More has raised $84,000 through GoFundMe after protests trash store. More

Retailers are promising big deals this Black Friday, but are the savings actually worth the shopping mayhem? Test your deal-sniffing skills. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.