May 17, 2022

Community Portrait

Miami-Dade County

Perhaps more than any other community in Florida, Miami-Dade -- its business, and cultural base, its politics, its community dynamics, its perception elsewhere, its 'feel' -- is defined by demography.

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The Bayside Marketplace is a shopping and entertainment complex in Miami.
[Photo: billwisserphoto.com]

Who Lives Here?

Like any other major urban area, Miami has urban problems — long commutes, crime, congestion. Overlaying all those issues, however, is Miami’s emergence as an assimilation hub — a gateway region where immigrants come and begin the process of defining themselves as Americans.

Half of the county’s residents were born outside the U.S., among the highest percentages of any county in the country. In the city of Miami, the figure is around 60%. By comparison, only 16.7% of all Floridians are born outside the U.S.

More than a quarter of all foreign-born residents have arrived since 2000. Hispanics continue to dominate the immigrant ranks. Nearly seven in 10 Miamians are of Hispanic origin. Countywide, 71% of residents speak a language other than English at home. For nearly 90% of those residents, it’s Spanish (two-thirds speak English well or very well, while the other third don’t speak English well or at all).

While Cuban-Americans still dominate the Hispanic population, recent years have seen influxes from non-Hispanic countries like Haiti, Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean, Canada and Russia — along with significant immigration from Central and South America.

Anecdotal and statistical evidence indicates a pattern of northward migration by immigrant families once they’ve established themselves economically. The growth of neighboring Broward County’s Hispanic population is one piece of evidence. Another: 5% of Miami-Dade County’s taxpayers in 2005 moved to other counties in Florida. (Leading destination counties were Broward, Palm Beach and Lee.) The out-migrants’ $39,000-plus average adjusted gross income is significantly higher than the $29,000 median household income of Miami residents in 2007. Other data has documented a net growth in the county’s overall black population, primarily due to immigration from abroad, but a net loss of educated black workers due to out-migration.

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