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Florida migrants, immigrants top nation, but low birth rate might cost congressional seat

In first nine years of the 2010s Florida attracted 1.3 million migrants, 1.1 million immigrants

The release of the 2019 U.S. Census estimates for 2019 state populations and population trends in advance of this year’s official census count suggest that Florida’s growth in the 2010s is due nearly as much to people moving to the Sunshine State from Puerto Rico and other countries as from other states.

About four of every ten new residents of Florida since the 2010 census arrived from Puerto Rico or other countries. About five of every ten new residents came from to Florida from other states. Only one of every ten came to Florida naturally.

The revelation is no surprise to people living in the regions of Florida where large Latino and Caribbean populations are blossoming. However, the official 2020, decennial numbers coming out of this summer’s U.S. Census Bureau count will break down the counts to the point where it will become clear whether that influx is unique to a handful of cities and counties or widespread in Florida.

Overall, Florida’s population growth for the first nine years of the 2010s is being estimated at 2.6 million new residents, the second biggest increase for a state, behind Texas.

Still, with a total state population now estimated at 21.5 million for 2019, that growth might not be enough to secure the two more congressional seats that many had anticipated would be awarded the Sunshine State after the 2020 census. The Wall Street Journal projected Monday that the 2019 estimates the U.S. Census Bureau released Monday for all 50 states suggest Florida might get only one new seat, increasing the state’s delegation to 28.

If so, it won’t be the fault of migrants and immigrants. Florida drew more more than any other state in the 2010s. But Florida’s natural growth rate — births minus deaths through the nine years — netted very few new people during the first nine years of the past decade.

In a political era in which immigration and Hispanic population growth have become divisive and partisan issues, Florida stands at the fore. There is nothing in the latest Census release to suggest how much of the immigration growth might be due to undocumented immigrants, though most observers expect that population to be significantly undercounted as people remain in relative hiding.

No state attracted more people from from other countries and Puerto Rico than did Florida during the past decade, according to the latest U.S. Census estimates. And no state saw a greater proportion of its new residents come from other countries or Puerto Rico than did Florida.

The same can be said for the single, most recent year, 2019, even though Puerto Rico stopped hemorrhaging residents last year.

For the decade, Florida’s population growth was mostly fueled by people moving from other states, 1.3 million migrants, the most in the nation. They increased Florida’s population since 2010 by 6.9 percent. They made Florida the sixth most popular states, in percentage growth due to people packing up and moving in from other states. Nevada, South Carolina, Idaho, Arizona and Colorado had higher rates.

Florida also had the most people moving in from Puerto Rico or other countries, totaled 1.1 million during the decade. They increased Florida’s population in the 2010s by 5.9 percent, again, tops in the nation. The U.S. Census Bureau includes people moving from Puerto Rico, who already are American citizens, in its numbers for immigrants.

Nationally, 7.9 million immigrants or Puerto Rican residents moved into the states. One of every seven moved into Florida.

Florida’s natural growth over the decade came at one of the country’s lowest rates. Florida added just 266,000 people through nature, according to the census estimates. That increased the Sunshine State’s population by just 1.4 percent, the 10th lowest rate in the nation. By contrast, nature added 1.9 million people to Texas and 2.2 million people to California.

Texas wound up topping Florida in total population growth during the decade because of its phenomenal natural growth rate, which increased the Lone Star State’s population by 7.4 percent, third highest behind Utah and Alaska, according to the census estimates

Puerto Rico lost 532,000 people during the first eight years of the 2010s, though in 2019 the island’s population increased by 340 residents, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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