St. Johns County Population Passes 300K Milestone
Reports of St. Johns County’s growth have not been greatly exaggerated. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Vintage 2022 Estimates, the county’s population passed the 300,000 mark last year, coming in at 306,841, up from 293,175 in 2021.
Statewide, Florida showed up on both ends of the spectrum with three counties – Polk, Lee and Hillsborough – among the Top 10 for numeric growth; Sumter County third on the list of fastest percent growth; with Baker and Bradford counties making the Top 10 in percent decline at fifth and 10th respectively. South Florida’s Miami-Dade County was the seventh-most populous county in the country.
“The migration and growth patterns for counties edged closer to pre-pandemic levels this year,” said Christine Hartley, assistant division chief for estimates and projections, in a media release.
“This is the first time the county has reached this number,” said David Kiernan, economist with the St. Johns County Department of Economic Development. “For some historical context, our 2022 population is almost 10 times what is was in 1970 and two-and-a-half times what is was in 2000. And, according to the vintage population estimate, the increase in the number of residents from April 2020 to July 2022 (33,414) is more than the total number of people who lived here in 1970 (31,035).”
The uptick did not go unnoticed and was not unexpected.
“We are now seeing the retail and commercial aspects begin to catch up with the large population growth during COVID,” said Scott Maynard, vice president for economic development at the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce. “The county also has many multi-family units coming online this year.”
Maynard said work is already being done to meet the needs of a growing population.
“The county commissioners have developed a priority list of road development and expansion to make transportation in and around the county more efficient,” he said.
Despite continued high inflation and lackluster improvement in consumer confidence, the upward trend is expected to continue in the county.
“While the growth has slowed from COVID levels, we still anticipate a growth rate of around 3.8 percent per year for the foreseeable future,” Maynard said.
Around Northeast Florida the news was good, for the most part.
Volusia County inched closer to a milestone with 579,192 residents in 2022, up from 565,988 the year before. Flagler County also saw growth, up to 126,705 as did Clay and Putnam counties with 226,589 and 74,731 respectively.
Baker County’s population dropped to 27,803 last year, from 28,673 in 2021.
Ironically, the nation’s two most populous counties – Los Angeles County in California and Cook County in Illinois – remain so despite also topping the list in numeric decline.
The nation’s fastest-growing county in percent growth was Whitman County in Washington State, home of Washington State University in Pullman. The top county for numeric growth was Maricopa County in Arizona.