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September 20, 2018

Perception vs. Reality

Florida Demographics: Who we are in 2012

Florida's diverse, but even more, it's complex.

We're diverse: In seven Florida counties — Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange, Osceola, Hendry, Hardee and Gadsden — non-Hispanic whites now make up less than half of the population.

We're urban and suburban: 80% of Florida's population lives within 10 miles of the coast.

[Photo: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio]

Florida's Ethnic Communities

Hispanics — 22.5%: Florida, with the third-largest number of Hispanics, has the sixth-largest percentage of Hispanics of all states. In the past decade, Hispanics accounted for more than half of the state's overall population growth. Florida's Hispanic population is unevenly distributed: More than half live in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Orange counties. Meanwhile, the Hispanic population in Pinellas and Duval counties is 8% and 7.6% respectively. Not all of Florida's Hispanics are Cuban. Cubans remain the biggest single Hispanic group (1.2 million), but large populations of Puerto Ricans live in Hillsborough (86,303) and Orange (139,181) counties. Concentrations of immigrants from Mexico and Central America live inland in west-central and south Florida, including, for example, the bulk of the state's almost 84,000 Guatemalans.

African-Americans — 16%: Florida has the second-largest number of African-American residents of any state but ranks 11th percentage-wise. Counties with larger than average populations of African-Americans include Broward and Duval and counties along the state's border with Georgia.

Haitians, et al.: The Miami metro area, including Broward, has 36% of the nation's French Creole speakers, ranking it No. 1 nationally. The area is third nationally in its share of Hebrew, Yiddish and Spanish speakers and fourth in Portuguese and French. Orlando is fourth nationally in French Creole.

Undocumented ?— 760,000: The number of undocumented immigrants in Florida in 2010 was down from nearly 1 million four years earlier, according to federal estimates.

We're not Peoria

The diversity of Florida's individual markets is reflected in the fact that national restaurant chains prefer locations outside the state to test-market new products. Test-marketers want cities that mirror America's demographics; many Florida markets would oversample on seniors or Hispanics to serve as a viable test market, says Mike Brady, DeSantis professor of business administration and marketing department chair at Florida State University. Exceptions: A 2010 test by Boston Market in West Palm Beach of a new, "stove-top" style of serving. Miami-based Burger King introduced the Whopper Bar in 2009 at Universal CityWalk. Orlando also served as a test bed for Wendy's sea-salt fries. Among Florida cities, Tallahassee and Jacksonville, which landed 15th on a list by marketing company Acxiom in 2004 of the best test market cities, more closely reflect American demographics.

Boston Market
[Photo: Boston Market]

Population Distribution

In 1900, two-thirds of Floridians lived north of Ocala. By 2012, nearly half lived south of Lake Okeechobee.

Florida's Population Distribution

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