Florida has reversed its demographic decline.
One of the leading demographic stories of the past decade was Florida’s population slump. But a surprising story of the new decade is Florida’s population rebound. Of all the “bubble states”—those slammed hardest by the housing market’s collapse—only the Sunshine State has shown robust signs of recovery in domestic migration.
Florida looks remarkably vibrant these days. Indeed, the state’s reversal in domestic migration has been spectacular: it gained a net 55,000 domestic migrants in 2010 and 119,000 in 2011. Only Texas, the leader in net domestic migration since 2006 (when it took over from Florida), added more domestic migrants last year. Between 2009 and 2011, Florida’s total population gain—which includes domestic migration, international migration, and births minus deaths—was more than 500,000 people, putting the state on track to become the nation’s third-largest by 2013.
What explains Florida’s turnaround? In part, housing prices and the cost of living, which have returned to historical norms (not counting the Miami metropolitan area). Last year, moreover, Florida’s legislature repealed the land-rationing Growth Management Act, a so-called smart-growth law that required local jurisdictions to seek approval for any development plans from the state’s now-defunct Department of Community Affairs. Repeal should help keep home prices low, which should keep the state appealing to newcomers.