Florida is Now the Fastest-Growing State in the Nation. That Might Hurt "Working-Class People," Says USF Economist

L. Cane

If you're a Floridian, you may have thought you noticed additional crowding when you were going about your daily life. You may have noticed additional people on the roads, in the grocery stores, and at the doctor's office. It turns out, that you may not be wrong in your perceptions.

Florida is Now the Fastest Growing State in America: Recent census data shows that between 2021 and 2022, the sunshine state gained around 400,000 new residents to reach an estimated population of 22,244,823. That makes it faster-growing than Texas, which has the largest population in the United States, behind California, which is the most populated.

The Growth is Somewhat Atypical: Although Florida has typically been an attractive destination for those looking to relocate, this sort of growth is relatively unprecedented. Florida's "natural change," (which is the number of births versus the number of deaths) usually remains somewhat flat. During the pandemic, there was actually a deficit. However, during 2021-2022, Florida saw a jump in population that was more than what is typical.

Florida's New Increase in Population May Bring Both Benefits and Rising Costs: On the one hand, migration or population increases to Florida sometimes comes with benefits, according to UF's Christopher McCarty, director of the school's Bureau of Economic and Business Research. According to McCarty, some new residents bring their wealth with them, which enhances the state's economy.

However, there is a flip side to this benefit. McCarty says a growing population can contribute to increased housing costs due to more demand than supply. (Florida's home prices jumped sharply in 2022. In some cases, prices increased as much as nearly 30%.)

A Burdened Labor Market and a Blow for "Working-Class People:" University of South Florida economist Michael Snipes indicated that the increases in population could tax the labor market and contribute to higher costs of living, which in turn would hurt the working class.

Snipes told the Tampa Bay Times:

“We have all these (older) people coming in from out of state with new income that’s been driving a lot of growth. But if you don’t have workers available to meet that growth, that’s going to put pressure (on the labor market) and cause prices to increase at a really high rate...If you’re a developer or work in the housing industry, or you’re a wealthy retiree, you’re loving this. But it’s going to hurt prices for the common man, and that’s going to hurt working-class people.”

Some Floridians Feel They Can No Longer Afford Florida: With rising housing, grocery, and property tax costs, some Floridians are expressing frustration that the cost to live in the sunshine state exceeds their income and they have had to make some very hard choices to stay afloat.

Employees such as nannies, manicurists, and small business owners told the publication Floricua that in many cases, they could not afford to buy a home, eat healthy foods, or afford arbitrary increases to their rent. Some lamented being unable to enjoy small luxuries like eating out at a restaurant once in a while.

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