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In a year, York and Lancaster counties grew like almost nobody else in the country.

In just a year's span York County has the second highest growth rate in the state, at 3.3 percent. Only Horry County at 3.7 percent — the Myrtle Beach metro area is the second highest in the country — is higher.
In just a year's span York County has the second highest growth rate in the state, at 3.3 percent. Only Horry County at 3.7 percent — the Myrtle Beach metro area is the second highest in the country — is higher. BEAU CABELL/THE TELEGRAPH

Even among the highest growth counties in the country, there aren't many like York and Lancaster.

The combination of size and growth is almost unique to this corner of South Carolina. Never mind how York and Lancaster rank in their own state.

The U.S. Census Bureau released new county-level population estimates March 22. The estimates run through mid 2017.

In just a year's span, York County has the second highest growth rate in the state, at 3.3 percent. Only Horry County at 3.7 percent — the Myrtle Beach metro area is the second highest in the country — is higher. Lancaster County, driven largely by the Indian Land area, had the third highest rate at 3 percent.

No other county had higher than a 1.9 percent growth rate. About 30 percent of the state, 14 of 46 counties, saw a decrease in residents.

So, how do York and Lancaster counties compare to the highest-growth areas in the country?

Of the 10 counties nationwide growing by the most total people, both York and Lancaster counties had a higher growth rate than all but Denton County, Texas. The combined growth rates of York and Lancaster counties is higher than the top four overall population growth counties — Maricopa, Ariz., Clark County, Nev., Riverside County, Calif. and Harris County, Texas — combined.

The top growth county in the country, by growth rate, is actually a city. Falls Church, Va., grew by 5.2 percent. It has an estimated 14,453 residents. About twice the size of Tega Cay in 2010.

York County's total population of more than 266,000 is more than all but No. 10 on the growth rate list, Osceola County, Fla. Lancaster County's more than 92,000 residents places it higher than seven of the top 10 growth rate counties in the country.

So few communities combine the number of people who already live in York and Lancaster counties, and the rate at which they're adding them.

While census data are numbers on a page, they reflect a wide range of growth issues from schools to roads public services to new industry. There was one industry that likely didn't need to be told York and Lancaster counties are growing.

The day after the bureau released its data, the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association released theirs on real estate trends for a 12-county region. February home sales were up 3.2 percent from the month prior, and more than 2 percent higher than February 2017.

“Despite the challenges the Charlotte region continues to face surrounding inventory levels and price increases, we’re pleased to see positive year-over-year sales during the first two months of the year," said Jason Gentry, association president. "Buyer demand continues to be steady, and we saw homes average about 10 showings per listing in February.”

The numbers were even more pronounced south of the state line.

Sales prices in Fort Mill maintained a steady distance at close to $75,000 above the Charlotte region as a whole. Lake Wylie was almost $100,000 per home higher. York County topped the region by about $20,000. Lancaster topped it by about $40,000. All those numbers track back at least a decade.

Sales price and closed sales are up in York County and Rock Hill, too. Overall, York County has grown about 18 percent since 2010. Lancaster County has grown almost 21 percent.

The high-growth doesn't travel far down I-77 just yet.

In Chester County, estimates show 21 more residents. A .1 percent change, and No. 26 in the state for growth. The more than 32,300 residents ranks No. 29 in total population.

Yet with Giti Tire and other additions, Chester County could see change. The county voted just this month against a rezoning that would have allowed for more than 800 homes in Richburg. County leaders say they want to get growth right while they're still on the front end of it.

"If this doesn’t pass, something else will,” Councilman Pete Wilson said just before the LGI vote. “And we have an opportunity in Chester County to do it the right way.”

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