What do America’s fastest-growing cities have in common?

by Ryan Streeter on March 20, 2013. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Do you live in one of the fastest-growing cities in America? Here’s the top 25:

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The list is courtesy of Joel Kotkin’s latest Forbes column.

With his characteristic contrarianism, Joel points out that the fastest-growing cities share qualities that cut against a lot of urban boosterism out there. One such under-discussed quality is the growth in the child population:

Immigrants and domestic in-migrants are important to population growth but equally critical is whether longtime residents in a region choose to have children. Virtually all the top 10 metro areas, both last year and since 2000, have also ranked among the fastest growing in terms of the population under 15; Raleigh’s child population alone has expanded by almost 45% since 2000, compared to 2% nationally;  Austin’s toddler population surged a remarkable, 38%. The child populations of Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Orlando all  increased by 20% or more.

In contrast, none of the hip cities posted under 15 population growth better than 5%. The number of children has actually declined in many, including New York, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco and Chicago. Even with substantial influxes from abroad, particularly in New York, it’s difficult for these areas to sustain population increases when the number of children keeps dropping.

It’s worth noting not only the sun belt dominance of the top 25 cities, but also that cities in states with no income tax are over-represented in the top tier.

If you’re a mayor and don’t have a lot of sun, then you have to compete more vigorously on taxes, affordability, schools, and overall cost of living if you want to grow.

Note that the first midwestern city on the list is in 23rd position: Indianapolis, which has earned a reputation for being strong on each of the qualities I just mentioned.

Read the whole thing here.