Less Sunshine In The Sunshine State

Florida is shrinking, demographically speaking. The state has seen its first year of population loss after a century of continuous growth that made Florida the 4th most populous state at 16 million in 2000. Even the retiree population is declining.

It may just be temporary. After all, "from 2004 to 2006, Florida added about 1,100 people a day, as housing construction's proportion of the state economy grew to twice the national average." But the recent dip, outlined in a University of Florida report and predicted by Brookings demographer, Bill Frey, is ominous for a state whose economy is partly based on in-migration. Schools, city and county governments, and local businesses are feeling the pinch.

"Choked by a record level of foreclosures and unemployment, along with a helping of disillusionment, the state's population declined by 58,000 people from April 2008 to April 2009, according to the University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and Business Research. Except for the years around World Wars I and II, it was the state's first population loss since at least 1900."

"It's dramatic," said Stanley K. Smith, an economics professor at the University of Florida who compiled the report. "You have a state that was booming and has been a leader in population growth for the last 100 years that suddenly has seen a substantial shift."

"Mr. Smith at the University of Florida nonetheless predicts modest population increases when the economy picks up - growth of 150,000 to 200,000 people annually."

Thanks to Mark Boshnack

Full Story: After Century of Growth, Tide Turns in Florida

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