Thursday, March 22, 2007

Florida Growth Despite Hurricanes

Hurricanes failed to dampen Florida’s growth, as the number of year-round households in the Sunshine State grew an estimated 15 percent between 2000 and 2006 to more than 7 million residences, a new University of Florida study shows.

“At this point we haven’t seen any real drop in growth from the hurricanes – the sky hasn’t fallen,” says Scott Cody, a demographer at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, who prepared the report with Stan Smith, an economics professor and the bureau’s director.
Florida was struck by four hurricanes in 2004 and two in 2005.

The number of housing units in Florida occupied by permanent residents increased by 952,938 in 2000 to an estimated 7,291,013 on April 1, Cody said.

The 2006 household estimates were based on 2000 census data and changes in electric customer and building permit information since 2000. Households are defined as housing units occupied by permanent residents and do not include those for seasonal residents.

Flagler County had the largest growth rate, experiencing a whopping 76 percent increase in its number of households over the six-year period, from 21,294 to 37,522. It was followed by Sumter, Osceola, Walton, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Lee and Lake counties.

"These places have cheaper land and space to grow compared to larger counties like Broward, where it’s harder to build single-family homes because they’re running out of space,” Cody says. “And as the baby boomers get older, they’re not tied as much to commuting to work in metropolitan areas and can live in communities like the Villages in Central Florida that are farther away.”

In sheer numbers, Miami-Dade had the largest increase, growing by 69,844 households between 2000 and 2006. It was followed by Hillsborough, 65,800; Orange, 64,006; Palm Beach, 63,959; Lee, 61,751; and Broward, 43,694.

Some of the rural counties had the smallest increases. Fewer than 300 households were added in DeSoto, Hamilton, Lafayette, Liberty and Glades counties. Hardee actually experienced a net loss, losing 82 households between 2000 and 2006.

“These smaller counties, many of them in the Panhandle, do not have as many people and typically do not experience the kind of growth that some of the counties in coastal areas do,” Cody says. Courtesy