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Carlos Gonzalez delivers a mattress to one of the 400 new apartments at The Haven at Indigo Square in Mount Pleasant on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. South Carolina is one of the nation's fastest growing states and its population now tops 5 million residents. Wade Spees/Staff

So many residents of other states have decided they'd rather live in South Carolina that the state's population now exceeds 5 million, according to Census Bureau estimates release Wednesday.

That's just about double the Palmetto State's population in 1970.

In some growing states, from California to Virginia, populations are rising because they have far more births than deaths. In South Carolina, people moving from other states have been the primary reason for the growth, exceeding gains from the birth rate nearly 5-to-1.

For more than 100 years that wasn't the case. South Carolina lost population to other states from at least the mid-1800s until 1970.

More recently, more people have been moving to South Carolina each year than to all but a handful of other states amid a nationwide population relocation to the South and West.

In the 12 months ending July 1, the Census Bureau said Wednesday, only nine states gained more population than South Carolina, which added an estimated 64,547 residents. Only five states — Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Washington and Arizona — gained more population due to relocation from other states.

“We’re benefiting from people up north who want to sell their houses and get out of the snow," said Frank Rainwater, executive director of the S.C. Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, which tracks population trends in the state.

They came for retirement and for jobs. They came to South Carolina because property taxes are very low, particularly compared with states in the Northeast.

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Midtown's phase II construction is underway off Hungryneck Boulevard in Mount Pleasant on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. South Carolina is one of the nation's fastest growing states and its population now tops 5 million residents. Wade Spees/Staff

New York and New Jersey have accounted for the highest numbers of people relocating to South Carolina. They haven't been coming, however, to all parts of the state.

Population increases have been concentrated in the coastal metropolitan areas — Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island — and the northwestern corner of the state, where York and Lancaster counties are now considered part of the Charlotte metro area. People have also been moving in large numbers from other states to areas along the Interstate 85 corridor from Charlotte to Atlanta that includes Greenville County, and to the Columbia area.

South Carolina population tops 5 million

New Census Bureau estimates say South Carolina's population has exceeded 5 million. Residents relocating from other states has been the primary driver of the growth. Staff

Examples of that concentrated growth were seen earlier this year when Charleston became the state's largest city, and Greenville was the nation's fastest-growing city east of Texas. 

In Horry County, migration from other states has accounted for 9 out of 10 residents added to the population since the 2010 census. In York County, about 75 percent of population growth has come from other states. In Charleston County, two-thirds.

Meanwhile, nearly half the counties South Carolina, primarily rural ones, have been losing population, and more residents have been moving out than moving in. 

“Over time, it’s just been (migration to) the metropolitan areas and the coastal counties," said Mike Macfarlane, census program manager at the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office.

Idaho in Nation's Fastest-Growing State[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

States experience population changes primarily in three ways and in each case the Census Bureau tracks the changes. The three ways are the net population changes from: births and deaths, people moving to and from other states, and people moving between states and other nations.

For South Carolina, in a long-running trend, it's all about people moving from other states. Few states have seen more population growth from net domestic migration, as it's officially known.

Some who move from other states could be South Carolina natives, or have families ties to the state, but the majority were born elsewhere. That's clear because, year after year, the number of South Carolina residents who are natives has been falling.

In some fast-growing coastal areas, native South Carolinians are greatly outnumbered. In Beaufort County nearly 75 percent of residents were born outside the state. In Horry County, home to Myrtle Beach, it's close to two-thirds.

Statewide, the percentage of South Carolina residents born in the state has dropped below 60 percent.

Reach David Slade at 843-937-5552. Follow him on Twitter @DSladeNews.

David Slade is a senior Post and Courier reporter. His work has been honored nationally by Society of Professional Journalists, American Society of Newspaper Editors, Scripps foundation and others. Reach him at 843-937-5552 or