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Census data: SC population growth centers on coast

Bruce Smith, Associated Press

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina's population increased more than 2 percent from 2010 through 2012, with some of the fastest growth in the nation centered along the state's coastline, according to new estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday.

The state's population grew to 4.7 million, up about 2.1 percent and about 100,000 from two years earlier. Some of the growth is due to births, and much was caused by people moving to South Carolina — about 63,000 over the two-year period.

The population had grown by more than 15 percent from 2000 to 2010, giving the state a seventh seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

As during the 2000s, rapid growth continues along the coast, the center of the state's $16.5 billion tourism industry.

The state's coast now has three of the nation's fastest-growing counties and three of its fastest-growing municipalities.

The new figures show that the population of Berkeley County outside Charleston grew to almost 190,000, up 6.7 percent, making it the 35th fastest-growing county in America.

Nearby Mount Pleasant is the nation's 38th fastest-growing municipality. Last year, its population was almost 72,000, up almost 6 percent from two years earlier.

Horry County, whose population grew 4.8 percent to 282,000, is the nation's 73rd fastest-growing county. And Dorchester, whose population increased 4.4 percent to 142,000, is the 97th fastest-growing county in the United States.

Charleston and North Charleston also are among the country's 100 fastest-growing municipalities. North Charleston grew 4.4 percent to 102,000 people while Charleston grew 4.3 percent to 126,000.

Rural Allendale County had the state's sharpest drop in population between 2010 and 2012. Its population dropped 4.1 percent to just under 10,000 residents. Lee County's population dropped 3 percent to 18,600.