MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – The days of people fleeing the high unemployment, high taxes, and real estate meltdown of the Sunshine State may be at an end. Where US Census figures once showed people leaving Florida in large numbers, between 2010 and 2011, they started to return, with South Florida leading the state.
Figures drawn from the first major update of 2010 Census show the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano Beach area saw 92 thousand people move in between 2010 and 2011, a 1.7 percent increase after almost a decade of decline.
In fact, the increase in the region was the 6th largest in the nation. Tampa/St. Petersburg saw the second largest influx of new residents in Florida over the period, with 36,573 new residents pouring into the metropolitan area over the year.
Even price conscious retirees appear to be finding Florida again.The Villages, a giant retirement community between and Ocala and Leesburg, saw 4.6 percent growth – the second highest growth figure in the nation.
Thursday’s news has brought more specificity – and validation – to reports first emerging in December that showed Florida seeing population gains following several years of flat or negative numbers. In a state that relies on construction and sales tax for much of its revenue, the return is expected to have an impact on state and local coffers.
“To us, population is the strongest driver in our economy,” said Amy Baker, coordinator of the Legislature’s Bureau of Economic and Demographic Research. “For us to get well into recovery, we needed to see population growth to come back. The statewide data we started seeing in December and is holding up now appears to bear that out.”