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11 ways to tell that Manatee-Sarasota is the 11th fastest-growing metro area in U.S.

Bradenton residents talk about population increase

Several Bradenton residents say they have noticed a marked increase in population in the area through traffic, development and business, especially in the past year.
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Several Bradenton residents say they have noticed a marked increase in population in the area through traffic, development and business, especially in the past year.

The Manatee-Sarasota area is officially booming, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. From mid-2014 to mid-2015, the population in the two-county metropolitan area increased by 20,123, to an estimated 768,831.

The percentage rate of growth -- 2.7 percent -- was the fourth-fastest in the state, and the 11th-fastest in the country, according to data released Thursday.

Statewide, the estimated population between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015, increased by 365,703, or by more than 1.8 percent, to 20,271,272. Since July 1, 2011, the population in what the Census Bureau dubs the "North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton metropolitan area" increased by an estimated 59,476, or a whopping 8.4 percent. During the same time, the state population increased almost 6.4 percent.

The other five Florida metro areas in the list of 20-fastest growing in the United States between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015, were: No. 1, The Villages, 4.3 percent; No. 3, Cape Coral-Fort Myers, 3.3 percent; No. 9, Punta Gorda, 2.8 percent; No. 13, Orlando-Kissimee-Sanford, 2.6 percent; and No. 14, Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, 2.6 percent.

Manatee-Sarasota ranked between No. 10 Fort Collins, Colo. (2.7 percent) and No. 12 Hilton Head Island-Fluffton-Beaufort, S.C. (2.6 percent.)

Here are 11 ways to tell there are more residents in the area:

1 There are more children: In both counties, the schools are fuller. For the 2015-16 academic year, Manatee and Sarasota counties reported increased enrollment, continuing a trend from the past few years.

In August, Manatee predicted 1,000 more students would join the system, bringing enrollment up to 48,000. At the same time, Sarasota County expected 900 more students to enroll in August, bringing total enrollment to 43,300. Manatee County is exploring building new schools in the Parrish/Ellenton area to handle predicted increased enrollment.

2 That's a trend likely to continue if the number of births is any indication. In Manatee County in 2014, there were 3,545 births, up from 3,375 in the prior year, according to Florida Charts, a health statistical bank.

3 You might think more people means more crime, but law breaking has actually gone down. The total number of index crimes -- including murders, burglaries and assaults -- decreased 2.6 percent from 5,873 in the first half of 2014, to 5,722 in the first half of 2015, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. In Sarasota County, the total number of index crimes decreased 8.7 percent from 5,167 in the first half of 2014, to 4,718 in the first half of 2015. The population at the Manatee County jail has also remained nearly unchanged. The average daily population at the jail in 2014 was 1,010 and in 2015 only grew to 1,019.

4 More people does equal more physical and online ma

terials being checked out from the six branches of the Manatee County Public Library System. The library use count increased to 3.75 million in 2015, up from 3.6 million in 2014, according to Manatee County.

5As population grows, so does business: According to Manatee County records, the number of new commercial building permits issued in fiscal year 2014-2015 was 106 compared with 49 the previous fiscal year. In Sarasota County, permits for new commercial structures actually dropped between the last two fiscal years by 17 permits, or 22 percent. According to county spokesman Jason Bartolone, 32 commercial projects have been approved by the county's land development division so far in the current fiscal year, compared with 30 the previous fiscal year.

6 More people need more places to eat: In Manatee, 313 restaurant seats were added between fiscal year 2014-15 and fiscal year 2013-14, from 61,902 to 62,215, according to state records. In Sarasota, the growth was more profound, with 5,041 restaurant seats added in the same period, from 88,294 to 93,335.

7Permits for new residential increased, too, but only slightly in Manatee County: Between the two fiscal years, residential permits issued went from 1,921 to 1,931, according to county records. In Sarasota County, permits for new residential structures increased from 1,076 to 1,131 between the last two fiscal years.

8The number of vehicles registered in Manatee County increased 6 percent from 243,870 vehicles registered in 2013-14 to 258,155 vehicles registered in 2014-15, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. In Sarasota County, vehicle registrations increased 7 percent, going from 202,806 vehicles registered in 2013-14 to 216,458 vehicles registered in 2014-15.

9Unsurprisingly, there is more traffic in some places. According to Florida Department of Transportation traffic counts, annual average daily traffic has grown slowly but steadily in some of Manatee County's highest-traffic areas. Volumes on State Road 70 near the intersection with Lakewood Ranch Boulevard is up by 15,500 vehicles daily between 2000 and 2014, the last year FDOT compiled traffic data. Recent growth is less, with volumes at that same spot nudging up by 1,000 vehicles between 2010 and 2014. Farther west at the busy intersection of Cortez Road West and 14th Street West, Cortez Road volume is up by 4,000 vehicles between 2010 and 2014. Traffic on the Green Bridge has increased by 1,000 average daily trips to 33,000 in 2014, up from 32,000 in 2013. However, traffic is down on 14th Street West having dropped by 8,500 vehicles since 1999 and 2,000 since 2010.

10 Some sexually transmitted diseases have increased along with the population boom. Chlamydia cases in Manatee County increased from 300 per 100,000 people in 2009 to 410 per 100,000 people in 2014, according to Florida Charts, a health statistical bank. After a steady decline from 2009-13, the rate of HIV infection cases jumped from 12 cases per 100,000 people in 2013 to 14 cases per 100,000 in 2014.

11 With more people, more utilities are needed and Manatee County Utilities System saw an increase of 2,281 customer accounts between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015. As of June 30, 2015, there were 113,451 customer accounts, according to Manatee County.

Herald staff writers Claire Aronson, Meghin Delaney, Jessica De Leon, Richard Dymond, Kate Irby, Matt M. Johnson and Janelle O'Dea contributed to this story.

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