Florida is the fastest-growing state in the nation, Census estimates show
It’s not your imagination: People really are flocking to Florida.
The Sunshine State had the fastest growing population in the country last year — the first time the state has topped the list since 1957, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released last week.
of The nation’s third largest state grew by 1.9% from July 2021 to July 2022 – adding over 400,000 new residents to reach an estimated population of 22,244,823. That’s the second largest numerical gain behind Texas, which has one bigger the general population.
Florida’s population has grown every year since the 1940s, often exceeding the US average. But like the rest of the US, that growth rate slowed to historic lows during the early years of the pandemic before rebounding last year.
A spokesman for Gov. Ron DeSantis, Jeremy Redfern, heralded the record increase in new residents as an indicator of public approval of the governor’s first term and Florida’s economic and social policies.
“People are voting with their feet,” Redfern said. “We are proud to be a role model for the nation and an island of sanity in a sea of madness.”
This year’s jump in population is unusual for a state that typically sees 300,000 to 360,000 new residents a year, said Christopher McCarty, director of the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, which contributes to the population estimates. Registration Bureau.
Florida’s population growth is typically driven by more people moving into the state than leaving. The state’s natural change — calculated as births minus deaths — is typically flat and was actually negative in 2020, McCarty said.
DeSantis has previously cited the state’s fewer COVID-19 regulations and restrictions as a reason tourists and new residents want to come to Florida. Experts said the appeal for no strict masking and other policies may have played a role.
But there is no reason why so many people are moving to Florida. McCarty noted Florida’s lack of income tax and business-friendly policies, and that it’s “just a really nice place to live.”
It was the weather that finally made Natalie Wolfe, 25, decide to move from Kansas City to Pinellas Park. in July 2022.
She fell in love with Tampa Bay’s beaches and nightlife while visiting her boyfriend, who moved away to the area a year ago for work. When she got a job that allowed her to work remotely, Wolfe started packing.
Despite arriving just months before Hurricane Ian, Wolfe — a Midwesterner — says she has no regrets the decision.
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“This is the first winter I haven’t had to deal with the storm,” she said.
Unlike Wolfe, most people who moved to Florida last year were older American adults at or near retirement age, said UF demographer Stefan Rayer. Florida already has one of the oldest populations in the country, and the influx of adults only exacerbates the state’s age imbalance.
Florida’s economy depends on new residents bringing income and wealth with them, McCarty said.
Country had the country’s fourth fastest growing economy from July 2021 to July 2022 – growing at an annual rate of 3.5% according to to federal data.
But bets on continued net migration are not sustainable, and growth may come at a cost, McCarty said. He said a growing population also contributes many of Florida’s economic problems, including inflation and the housing shortage.
“We have all these (elderly) people coming in from out of state with new incomes that have fueled a lot of growth,” said University of South Florida economist Michael Snipes. “But if you don’t have the workers available to meet that increase, that will put pressure (on the labor market) and cause prices to rise at a really high rate.”
The same is true of the housing market, Snipes said. When new construction cannot keep up with rising demand, housing prices will rise. Nearly 220,000 new housing units were approved from July 2021 to July 2022, according to federal data. This is the highest number of new building permits in the state since 2006.
“If you’re a developer or you work in the housing industry, or you’re a wealthy retiree, you’re going to love this,” he said. “But it’s going to hurt prices for ordinary people, and it’s going to hurt working-class people.”
The last time Florida had the fastest population growth in the nation was in 1957, when it grew by 8%.
The Sunshine State’s population growth increased in the 1950s, perhaps in part because air conditioning became more prevalent in southern states, according to a Census Bureau statement released along with the new data. Since then, the state has consistently ranked at the top in population growth.
Smaller states like Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, and Utah often outpace larger states like Florida and Texas in terms of percentage growth. Nevada was the fastest growing state 36 times since 1946, according to Census data.