Florida Trend's Floridian of the Year
Fla. Newsmakers of 2009
People who made an impact in business, economy, science, environment, government, education, sports, philanthropy, media and our fallen soldiers.
Business and the Economy
» The Emigrants
Ray Tirado, a former insurance sales and risk manager, packed up before Thanksgiving and moved back to Ohio. [Photo: Mark Wemple]
Many of the better companies where he applied never called — despite his five years of success in Florida insurance sales and risk management and his participation in the Manatee Chamber and young professionals groups.
National listings such as Monster.com were even more frustrating: "Half of the ads turn out to be schemes or work-from-home or commission-only life insurance sales," Tirado says.
In November, the 26-year-old gave up on Florida. The week before Thanksgiving, he packed a U-Haul trailer, hooked it up to the back of his car and headed north on Interstate 75, returning home to live with his mother in Columbus, Ohio.
Tirado is just one of 500,000 Floridians who left the state in 2009, demographers say. It was the first time since World War II that Florida's population actually shrank, falling by some 58,000 residents. (The state may still pass New York in this year's Census to become the third-largest state in the nation.) Public school enrollment in Florida also dropped, by nearly 30,000 students statewide.
Demographers and economists say that once the recession ends, Florida will begin to attract residents once again, though perhaps not at the go-go rates of the 20th century. Tirado believes that theory; he may move back himself one day — but only if he's an entrepreneur working for himself and doesn't have to hunt for a job.
"One thing I'm really not looking forward to in Ohio," he says, "is the winter."
— Cynthia Barnett