If it feels a bit more crowded in Florida, that’s because it is. New census estimates show the state grew by over 322,000 people between 2017 and 2018, for an increase of 1.5 percent. Seems like such a tiny percentage and yet Florida now holds 21.3 million people.
Florida is a receiving state – putting out the sunshine mat for people from many states and Puerto Rico, which contributed a good chunk to the state increase in population.
Domestic migration to Florida was over 132,000 in that period, and Puerto Rico after Hurricane María supplied about 53,000 of that number, according to state data. In fact, Puerto Rico’s population fell by 4 percent or 130,000 people, census figures indicate, signaling that Puerto Ricans are no longer enchanted by the island, whose population totals 3.1 million, a figure not seen since the 1970s.
A declining population makes Puerto Rico’s economic recovery difficult, since a shrinking labor force means fewer hands to produce goods and services and generate taxable revenue. In fact, this week the Financial Management and Oversight Board handling Puerto Rico’s finances and Gov. Ricardo Rosselló were at loggerheads over work requirements for welfare recipients. Only 40 percent of working-age people are employed in Puerto Rico, too low a figure, the fiscal control board said.
But in Florida it’s all hands on deck, since the state is enjoying a period of low unemployment, about 3.4 percent in October, lower than the U.S. average of 3.7 percent. The situation is better in Orange and Seminole counties, each boasting a 2.6 percent unemployment rate. Osceola is not far behind, with 3 percent.
The Florida demographic forecast is for a continued precipitation of people with demographic expansion at or above 1.4 percent annually through 2024, about 900 people per day, nearly all of it from domestic migration.
According to the Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research, “These increases are analogous to adding a city slightly larger than Orlando every year.”
Best start making room for more people.
˜˜María T. Padilla, Editor