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 St. Johns County’s economic development efforts, too, according to Joy Andrews, deputy county administrator and director of economic development.

“St. Johns County had the highest population growth rate in the state from 2020 to 2021, and while data for last year isn’t out yet, we certainly grew again in 2022,” Andrews said. “We can’t help but look at recent and potential future population growth as transformative, and that transformation needs to be guided in a positive direction. Our economic focus is on ensuring that businesses continue to establish themselves here so that there are good jobs for residents, and places to shop, eat and find entertainment.”

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.

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

“Population growth provides a great opportunity in terms of increasing demand for goods and services, and an additional labor force, which, together, should promote healthy expansion,” she said. “Demographic changes over the past decade have also led to changes in spending patterns and the types of labor that are demanded and available. Understanding and responding to these shifts can create further opportunities for existing businesses to redefine their missions or expand existing operations.

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.

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

“It is critical for us to understand the population in terms of numbers and demographics, the economy in how it can work for both business and labor, and community high points and deficits so that business leaders will want to be here,” she said. “Perhaps most importantly, we must remain diligent in identifying and communicating with the right kinds of businesses to ensure that they know St. Johns County is the place for them.”