July 29, 2014

community portrait

Palm Beach County

Palm Beach aerial
Foreground: Island of Palm Beach. Background: City of West Palm Beach. [Photo: palmbeachaerials.com]

Who Lives Here?

The Big Picture — Countywide

Population: 1.3 million

Palm Beach County
Community Portrait

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Palm Beach County is the state’s third-most populous county and the 10th-most densely populated. In total square mileage, including part of Lake Okeechobee, it’s the largest county in Florida. Some 40% of the population lives in unincorporated areas near the coast.

Ethnicity

  • White, non-Hispanic: 63%
  • Black: 16%
  • Hispanic: 18%

Key Demographics

The county has a slightly higher percentage of foreign-born residents (22%) than the statewide average (19%) and a slightly higher percentage of people living alone (32% vs. 29%). Educational levels are also higher than statewide averages: Nearly a third of Palm Beach County’s population has a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 26% of the population statewide.

The median age (43.4 years) is slightly older than the statewide average (40.3), but recent growth trends in younger demographic groups may be moving the population closer to the statewide average.

Median income: $52,700 vs. the statewide average of $47,778. The county ranks near the top in per capita income; in 2006, the county’s per capita income was 150% of the U.S. average. Nearly 40% of the county’s population receives Social Security. Historically, Palm Beach County has had a wide gap between average wages earned and average overall income, reflecting a small but extremely wealthy part of the population that gets most of its income from investment earnings. Poverty rates in the county match statewide averages.

Politics

Palm Beach County traditionally has been a Democratic stronghold, particularly in presidential elections. No Republican presidential candidate has received more than 40% of the vote since 1988.

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