The Portland metro area posted the second-largest population increase in New England during the past year, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday.

The bureau released figures on its estimates of population growth at the metro and county level, and they showed that the Portland metro area grew by 3,189 people – from 520,363 people on July 1, 2013, to 523,552 on July 1, 2014 – an increase of 0.61 percent. Among the 14 New England metro areas, only Boston posted a bigger percentage increase, growing 0.73 percent.

Those numbers were far below the kind of growth some metro areas in southern states have seen. The Census Bureau said the fastest-growing metro area in the country was The Villages in Florida, where the population jumped by 5.4 percent in the last year. The bureau’s top 50 list was dominated by metro areas in Texas, California and Florida.

But any kind of increase in population is good news for the Maine economy, because an aging, slow-growing population can hamper economic growth, said Ryan Wallace, project director for the Maine Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Southern Maine. An influx of new people is “what the state needs to counter an aging population and an aging workforce,” he said.

The Portland metropolitan area, as defined by the Census Bureau, consists of Cumberland, York and Sagadahoc counties.

Wallace noted that the figures released Thursday don’t break down who was moving into the metro area. He said what the state really needs is educated young adults who will settle in, raise families and, hopefully, bring the kind of skills that growing or startup companies need. He said Maine is attracting a fair number of retirees, whose retirement incomes are welcome even though older newcomers put greater stress on health care resources and aren’t joining the workforce.

Some economists say the state faces a “demographic cliff” in coming years without a significant increase in the labor force. The concern is if companies can’t find the workers they need, they will either struggle to grow here or may choose to expand elsewhere.

Laurel Getz is an example of the type of new Mainer the state needs to attract.

Getz, 30, moved to Portland about a year ago, tired of the fast pace of life and lack of work-life balance in San Francisco.

Since then, she said, she’s been able to rent a two-bedroom apartment on Munjoy Hill for less than her share of an apartment in San Francisco that she shared with three roommates.

The Connecticut native said she’s working part time at TideSmart, a marketing and media company in Falmouth, while building a business making organic, plant-based skin care products.

She said friends she’s met here include other new residents who were seeking the same kind of change of pace she sought. And other friends include longer-term residents who tell her that their friends who moved away are eager to come back.

Getz said she also meets visitors to the region who “are shocked about how amazing Portland is,” although she said she sometimes asks them to keep it a secret.

Another new resident is Sara Juli, who moved from Brooklyn to Falmouth last summer with her husband and two children. She said the family appreciates the space they have and she and her husband have both been able to maintain New York careers – and incomes – from Maine.

Juli, 36, runs a consulting business from her home, with an monthly trip to meet with clients in New York. Her husband, she said, commutes weekly to New York.

“The quality of life is such a change” she said. “I’m just so happy.”