Migration to continue driving Florida’s growth as deaths outpace births, economists project

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Florida’s growth since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has been driven by migration from other states, overcoming deflated immigration from overseas and the state’s negative “natural growth” — the difference between total births and deaths.

State economists expect that trend to continue in the coming years, as they met last week to approve a new forecast for Florida’s population. The projections, posted online Tuesday, were increased by nearly 4,000 people per year over the previous estimate, made in December.

Overall, the Office of Economic and Demographic Research projects the population to grow by 352,301 in 2022, to 22,251,246 people, or 3,795 more than the December estimate. That’s a 1.61% growth rate.

But while the state is still expected to grow over the next 5 years, the rate is expected to decline. In 2023, economists predict a 1.47% increase, which is projected to slow to 1.16% by 2027.

“Natural increase is expected to remain negative throughout the forecast horizon as deaths continue to outpace births,” the economists’ summary states. “Overall, the forecast maintains the pattern that the (estimating) conference has long been expecting, with growth slowing modestly each year.”

Part of the reason for the slower growth is the state’s negative natural growth rate. The state had 7,540 more deaths than births in the 2020 fiscal year, the first time Florida had a negative natural growth rate since at least 1950. In 2021 that grew to 42,690 more deaths than births before falling to 28,231 in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

That decrease in population was made up for in net migration, which was 404,266 in 2021 and 372,335 in the fiscal year that ended June 30. Net migration, though, is projected to decline to 290,452 by 2027.

That will keep Florida’s overall growth rate positive in the coming years.

“Between April 1, 2022 and April 1, 2027, population growth is expected to average 294,756 net new residents per year (808 per day), representing a compound growth rate of 1.29% over this five-year time horizon,” the summary states. “These increases are analogous to adding a city about the size of Orlando every year.”

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