February 23, 2024

Florida's population growth expected to slow in coming years

TALLAHASSEE — Florida continues to grow as it attracts people from other parts of the U.S., but that growth is projected to slow in the coming years as groups that have been moving to Florida in droves get older, according to state economists.

The Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research released a report this week that showed the state’s estimated population in April was 22,634,867, an increase of nearly 359,000 people, or 1.61 percent, from a year earlier.

The increase was bolstered by the number of people moving to Florida from elsewhere in the U.S. being “the highest number it’s ever been,” according to Stefan Rayer, population program director with the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Florida.

“Population growth is still growing strong in the state. Slightly more than the year before, but still, if you compare long-term averages which have been just under 300,000, it’s been really remarkably strong,” Rayer said during a Nov. 28 meeting that led to this week’s report.

Population projections through 2028 show growth could begin to taper off. The rate of growth is expected to slow to 1.51 percent next year, 1.37 percent in 2025, 1.3 percent in 2026, 1.24 percent in 2027 and 1.18 percent in 2028.

While the rate would slow, the population would still increase by an average of about 300,000 people a year during the period. Senate President Kathleen Passidomo called attention to that in a Nov. 9 memo to senators announcing plans to make changes in the health-care system to try to accommodate anticipated demand.

“In fact, our estimates suggest that over the next five years, our population will grow by almost 300,000 new residents per year, over 800 per day. That is like adding a city slightly smaller than Orlando, but larger than St. Petersburg every year,” Passidomo wrote.

Key to understanding the potential slowing growth rate is looking at who has been moving to the state.

In 2022, the 60-to-69-year-old age group represented the largest share of people moving to Florida from other states, according to the data, taken from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The second-largest age group moving to Florida was people ages 50 to 59.

Margaret Snyder, a representative of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office at the Nov. 28 meeting, said people in the 20-to-39-year-old age range “have consistently not shown the same desire to move to Florida.” Snyder said people ages 50 to 69 have driven numbers of residents moving from other parts of the U.S. — but a change could be coming.

“When it comes to domestic migration, we have relied heavily on the older population, especially ages 50 to 70. With baby boomers about to leave this age group, we believe in the next several years these numbers will start to decline, or at least not grow at the levels we’ve seen over the past five years,” Snyder said. 

If that trend were to continue, the annual growth rate could dip below 1 percent in the 2030s, according to state economists.

“The end of the decade continues to be an inflection point with the entry of the final baby boomer cohorts into retirement. Annual growth drops below 1.00% thereafter,” an executive summary of the report said.

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