Florida is home to 21.5M, U.S. Census Bureau says

Demographic Change
Florida saw its smallest population growth since the 1960s.

Florida is home to 21,538,187 people, according to the 2020 census, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Monday.

That’s up from 18,801,310 people in the 2010 census.

The latest official census numbers make Florida officially the third-most populous state in the country, behind California, which now has 39.5 million residents, and Texas, which now has 29.1 million residents. Florida rushed ahead of New York, which saw a much slower growth rate of 4% bring it to just 20.2 million residents.

Still, Florida’s growth is slowing, particularly compared with the boom decades of the late 20th century.

The Sunshine State’s growth of 2,736,877 new residents in the 2010s was the smallest decade-long increase in population the U.S. Census bureau has found in the Sunshine State since the 1960s, according to the first released results of the decennial census the bureau announced Monday.

Florida’s decade gain of 2.7 million in the 2010s compares with 2.8 million in the 2000s, 3 million in the 1990s, 3.2 million in the 1980s, and 3 million in the 1970s.

Nonetheless, in the 2010s, Florida’s population grew by 14.6%, a rate of growth most states would love.

Florida enjoyed the seventh-fastest rate of population increase during the 2010s. Utah had the country’s fastest growing population in the 2010s, with an 18.4% increase. Then came Idaho, Texas, North Dakota, Nevada, and Colorado. The state of Washington and Washington D.C. both also posted 14.6% growth rates.

Overall, the census tallied 331,449,281 people in the United States. Like Florida, the country’s population growth rate slowed some in the 2010s, according to the Census Bureau.

The result: Florida gained one seat in Congress in the reapportionment that is based on the decennial census, and will have 28 members of the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2022 elections. Texas got two new seats, while Colorado, North Carolina, Montana, and Oregon each gained one seat. California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia each lost one seat in Congress.

Wracked by hurricanes, earthquakes, a crippled economy, and ineffective government, Puerto Rico posted the worst population decline in the country, a decline everyone expected. Three states also lost population: West Virginia, Mississippi, and Illinois.

Puerto Rico’s population shrank by 11.8% in the 2010s to a total of 3,285,784 residents. Many of the people reflected in Puerto Rico’s decrease of 439,000 residents moved to Florida or other states.

Still, that Puerto Rican migration did not help raise Florida’s population as much as many expected for the Sunshine State. Had Florida sustained its population growth of the 2000s, about 17.6%, the Sunshine State would have added 500,000 more residents in the 2010s than it actually did, and that would have been more than enough to push the population high enough to earn 29 seats in the House.

Has the mad migration from the Northeast and Midwest slowed? That cannot be determined until later when the Census bureau releases its migration numbers. However, annual estimates released by the Census Bureau have suggested the majority of Florida’s growth in the 2010s had come from Puerto Rico and other nations, particularly in Latin America, rather than from other states.

Scott Powers

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 [email protected].


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