Florida Tops Nation in Population Growth

Florida is the nation’s fastest-growing state for the first time since 1957 – and that is good news for economic development in the Sunshine State.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Vintage 2022 population estimates, Florida’s population increased by 1.9% to 22,244,823 between 2021 and 2022, surpassing Idaho, the previous year’s fastest-growing state. Florida’s percentage gains since 1946 have been impressive: its 2022 population is just over nine times its 1946 population of 2,440,000, the agency said in a media release.

It’s good news for Volusia County’s economic development efforts, too, according to Helga van Eckert, director of Volusia County’s Division of Economic Development.

“It is significant,” van Eckert said. “Volusia County’s population growth and worker in-migration have helped expand the local labor force amid a nationwide decline in worker participation rates. This is especially noteworthy today, as the availability of workforce has been a top concern in recent years.”

Having a talent pool of skilled workers is a key factor in attracting new business development and workforce issues have only become more important in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, many national retailers look at population levels as a determinant for expanding into new markets.

Van Eckert said population growth is also good for existing businesses and helps keep local economies healthy.

“A steady population growth moves money through the local economy,” she said. “For example, it provides a larger pool of human capital to draw workforce from, it stimulates the downtown retail and professional/business service sectors with an increased demand for goods and services, and it ensures a steady pipeline for the construction/real estate industry. At the risk of sounding dated, the ‘Live, Work, Play’ model remains a strong strategy for resilient communities.”

That steady population growth has been a hallmark of Florida’s experience, according to the Census Bureau.

Between 2010 and 2020, national growth dipped from 0.9% to 0.5% each year while Florida’s increases ranged from 1.0% to 2.0%. In 2022, Florida’s growth was nearing that previous decade high at 1.9%, not high compared to past gains but still the fastest among the states. Interestingly, Florida had the second-largest numeric gains behind Texas, the Census Bureau report said.

The prospect of continued population growth puts Volusia County in a good position to attract new businesses to the area and improve the quality of life for residents, van Eckert said.

“There was a time that people were willing to pack up their family and relocate to a new area for employment,” she said. “However, today we’re seeing individuals prioritize quality of life over job title. In response, companies are choosing to locate and/or expand in communities that have attracted the workforce they need. Fortunately, quality of life is an area where Volusia County excels. The community has been discovered.”