April 21, 2021

60th Anniversary

Then & Now: 1958 Florida vs. Florida today

Politics, demographics, the economy and headlines.

Mike Vogel | 4/27/2018

Then and Now: Crime

Per 100,000 population, the rates of murder and burglary have fallen compared to 1958. The rates of aggravated assault, larceny and auto theft have all increased compared to 1958, but assaults have decreased notably in the past decade.

Then and Now: Race and Ethnicity


  • White — 82%
  • Non-white — 18%


  • White non-Hispanic — 55%
  • Hispanic* — 25%
  • African-American — 17%
  • Asian and other — 3%

* Hispanic is an ethnicity, not a race

Then and Now: State Taxes

  • 1958 Sales Tax — 3%
  • 2018 Sales Tax — 6%
  • 1958 Corporate Income Tax — 0%
  • 2018 Corporate Income Tax — 5.5%

Then and Now: Wages

  • $240 — The gain in Florida’s average weekly wage from 1959 to 2016 in inflationadjusted dollars.
  • $122 — The gain in Florida’s average weekly teacher salary from 1958 to 2016 in inflationadjusted dollars.

Then and Now: The Big Shift

How the federal government classifies businesses among industry sectors has changed through the years, making comparisons problematic. The figures below offer a rough comparison between 1963, the earliest year with available state-level data, and 2016, the most recent full-year data available from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.


Then: 13% of GDP
Now: 5%

In 1958, as reflected in FLORIDA TREND and other publications, an influx of manufacturers such as the predecessor of Lockheed Martin and a surge of chemical plant construction left business observers speculating that in Florida’s future, manufacturing would come to rival tourism. They and we didn’t see the long-term changes ahead in U.S. manufacturing.


Then: 6% of GDP
Now: 5%

Call it even. Construction has picked up since 2016.

Wholesale Trade

Then: 8% of GDP
Now: 7%

Retail Trade

Then: 12% of GDP
Now: 8%

Transportation and Utilities

Then: 10% of GDP
Now: 5%

Finance, Insurance, Real Estate

Then: 17% of GDP
Now: 23%


Then: 14% of GDP
Now: 28%

It’s safe to say that Florida’s economy in the last six decades has moved, along with the nation, more toward services.


Then: 16% of GDP
Now: 12%


Then: 4.4% of GDP
Now: 0.7%

Agriculture always has had an outsized hold on the perception of the state economy. In current dollars, agriculture today is larger than any individual sector of the Florida economy was in 1963, but it hasn’t grown as fast as other sectors.


Then: 0.8% of GDP
Now: 0.15%

Phosphate mining has had a big impact on the state’s development and look but contributes relatively little to GDP.


1997: 5% of GDP
Now: 4%

The category didn’t exist until 1997. Before then, some components of it — publishing, broadcasting — fell under other industry classifications while others such as internet service providers didn’t exist.

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