Rick Bowmer
FILE - This Sept. 16, 2015, file photo, shows Zion National Park, near Springdale, Utah. Officials at Zion National Park have scheduled a series of public meetings to discuss challenges facing the park as it continues to draw record numbers of visitors. The Spectrum newspaper in St. George reports that National Park Service figures show that nearly 1 million people had visited the park in southern Utah through the end of April. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

St. George is officially the country’s fastest-growing metro area, according to a USA Today report on U.S. Census Bureau data.

Based on the new data, about 165,662 people lived in St. George during 2017, which is a 4 percent increase from the previous year.

Pam Perlich, director of demographic research at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah, told USA Today that St. George saw a spike in growth in part because of Las Vegas.

"Certainly it's tied to the growth dynamic of the Greater Las Vegas area, but it's got its own internal growth dynamic, and there isn't another county in the state we can point to that has this," she said.

The Myrtle Beach area in South Carolina placed second on the list, jumping 3.7 percent to 446,793 people.

Areas such as Greeley, Colorado; Bend, Oregon; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Lakeland-Winter Haven, Florida; Boise, Idaho; Austin-Round Rock, Texas; and The Villages, Florida, all ranked among the top 10, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Provo-Orem area also ranked among the top 10 fastest-growing metro areas, according to USA Today, placing eighth on the list. The area received a 2.7 increase in population to reach 601,478 people.

Utah’s overall speed of growth has caught the eye of many, Perlich said.

Indeed, three Utah counties were among the top 10 fastest-growing areas in the United States, according to the census data. Wasatch County was third, while Tooele County placed second.

Morgan County, meanwhile, jumped for the 44th fastest-growing county to the eighth based on the census data, Deseret News reported.

"It's a small county to begin with. Any increase in growth is going to be a large percentage," Perlich told the Deseret News.

Perlich told the Deseret News that these counties represent “ring” areas, which are expanding urban communities.

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"The Intermountain West continues to be an area of growth and dynamism. Within the state itself, that story of growth is happening very unevenly," Perlich said. "The kind of growth you're seeing in the metropolitan areas is just not shared by these rural counties."

Earlier this month, Forbes named Boise, another city in the Intermountain West, as the fastest-growing city in 2018.

Using Moody’s Analytics, Forbes found that the city grew by 3.08 percent last year.

Adam Kamins, a senior economist at Moody’s, told Forbes that Boise "is not necessarily a place you would associate with really robust growth.”

But, he said, Boise has “got the pieces in place. It's has got the location, it's got low cost, a healthy tech presence.”