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When it comes to population growth, Florida continues to shine

Florida’s climate and lack of a state income tax are two big reasons its population grew by nearly 2 percent from 2015 to 2016.
Florida’s climate and lack of a state income tax are two big reasons its population grew by nearly 2 percent from 2015 to 2016. Herald file photo

Florida is the fourth-fastest growing state in the United States, according to national and state population estimates released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau.

According to the agency, Florida’s population in 2016 was 20,612,439, a 1.82 percent increase from 2015, when it was 20,244,914.

The Sunshine State trails Utah, which became the nation’s fastest-growing state during the past year after crossing the 3 million mark, Nevada and Idaho. Compared to Florida’s percentage growth, Utah was at 2.03 percent, Nevada at 1.95 percent and Idaho at 1.83 percent.

“I’m not surprised at all,” Anna Maria Commissioner Carol Carter said of Florida’s position. “I know many people who have lived in other areas who have recently migrated to Florida and to this area for sure, particularly the early Baby Boomers now who are retiring and they’re tired of shoveling snow and of gray, ugly days in the Midwest and Northeast.

“(Florida is) handier than California, plus the taxing situation ... we don’t have any personal income tax in Florida and they have lots of personal income tax in California.”

According to the most-recent U.S. Census Bureau data, Manatee County’s population in July 2015 was 363,369. There were 322,833 people living in the county in April 2010.

I know many people who have lived in other areas who have recently migrated to Florida and to this area for sure, particularly the early Baby Boomers now who are retiring and they’re tired of shuffling snow and of gray, ugly days in the Midwest and Northeast.

Anna Maria Commissioner Carol Carter

Carter said she knows the population in Manatee County is “certainly booming” but numbers are much different on Anna Maria Island.

“We experience exactly the opposite on the island,” she said. “Our residential population is declining because of the development of the short-term vacation rental industry here on the island and it’s lucrative for many residents to leave because they can sell their property for much higher value for the short-term rental use.”

In 2015, Carter created an organization that works to attract people to live on the 7-mile barrier island with Holmes Beach Vice Chairwoman Jean Peelen and former Bradenton Beach Commissioner Janie Robertson — a way to preserve the residential character of Anna Maria Island. The Anna Maria commissioner is now working on the creation of the AMI Community Development Fund, which would acquire historic properties on the island.

“We want to keep those historic bungalows, one-story level properties and develop them into annual rentals once again so we can have people who can’t afford to buy property on the island live here,” she said. “So we can repopulate.”

Lolita Packer, a resident of Palmetto for 50 years, said she is surprised by the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“You can tell it too because of the traffic and everything,” the 71-year-old said after a short pause. “You can really tell it and it’s very hard to get back and forth to Bradenton in the morning time and in the afternoon. I’m not driving right now, but when I was driving, it was hard to get back and forth. ... It takes the longest to get across the bridges.”

Florida trailed California (39,250,017) and Texas (27,862,596), while the U.S. population grew by 0.7 percent to 323.1 million, the U.S. Census Bureau said.

New York and Illinois, the nation’s fourth and fifth most-populous states, were among eight that lost population.

Amaris Castillo: 941-745-7051, @AmarisCastillo

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