Wow, Florida now has 20.2 million residents, placing the state after California and Texas as the nation’s most populous states, according to the latest estimates from the census.
The figures are not too surprising. Last year, Florida surpassed New York as the state with the third largest population, which was saying a lot considering that New York is one of the original 13 colonies with a significant immigrant past. Now, many New Yorkers are bumping into each other in the Sunshine State.
Notably, “Florida added more people than California for the first time in nearly a decade,” according to the census press release.
“Growth” has long been Florida’s primary economic engine, all made possible by air conditioning in the early 20th century, helping to make bearable the swampy, soupy, humid heat.
Who is “growing” Florida today?
Baby boomers and Latinos – and not necessarily in that order. Northern and Midwestern boomers head south to escape the harsh winters and higher costs of living. Hispanics –who, frankly, are keeping the state younger than it might otherwise be – are fleeing mostly economic stagnation and sometimes political upheaval, opting to forge a future here.
Today, the state’s largest Hispanic groups are, in order, Cubans, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans. But this may get scrambled up in the near future. A fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico is sending many Puerto Ricans to Florida – the island’s population fell by 61,000 in the past year and Florida is the largest receiving state.
“The exodus, specifically of puertorriqueños, has been growing since 1990-2015,” wrote Julio García on Facebook.
Meantime, many Cubans are entering the U.S. via Texas instead of Florida. Plus, we don’t yet know how normalized relations between the two countries may affect Cubans’ favored immigrant status. As for Mexicans, contrary to popular opinion, net migration is below zero, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. More Mexicans are going home than coming to the U.S.