Statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau show both Lee and Collier County had significant population gains in the decade from 2000 to 2010. Lee County’s population jumped 40% from 440,888 residents in 2000 to 618,754 ten years later. Collier County’s population increased 28% during the same period from 251,377 to today’s number of 321,520.       Both counties rank among the top 20 most populous in Florida. Lee County is ranked eighth and Collier County comes in at 17th. Both Lee and Collier County numbers were projected during the mid decade to be higher by 2010, but population gains slowed with the recession and housing downturn. Much of Lee County’s growth occured in the Southern part of the county. The combined population of Bonita Springs and Estero jumped 61% from 44,868 in 2000 to today’s total of 73,068.