Florida households grow over last six years despite hurricanes
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — 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,” said 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 said. “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,” he said.
The study also found that Florida’s average household size since the 1990s has remained steady at 2.46 people, after falling rapidly in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The average household size in the United States is slightly higher at 2.59, falling from 2.63 between 1990 and 2000 after several decades of substantial declines, Cody said.
“It may be that Florida not mirroring the U.S. decline relates to more families moving here permanently with the availability of greater numbers of jobs in places like Tampa and Orlando,” he said. “We still have many retirees but they are balanced out by the large influx of Hispanics who tend to have bigger families.”
The study found that counties with the largest average household sizes tended to have low proportions of older residents and high proportions of black or Hispanic residents, Cody said. “Fertility rates are higher for these groups, which is one factor in household size,” he said.
Between 2000 and 2006, average household size declined slightly in 43 Florida counties, rose slightly in 10 counties and remained constant in 14 counties, the study found.
In 2006, average household size was largest in Hendry, Hardee, Baker, Miami-Dade, Osceola, Union and Clay counties. It was smallest in Sarasota, Charlotte, Pinellas, Monroe, Sumter and Citrus counties.
Estimates of average household size were based on each area’s average household size in 2000, the national change in average household size since 2000, the local change in the mix of housing units, and factors such as birth, school enrollment and Medicare. The Medicare data picks up changes in the older population, which tends to have fewer persons per household than younger populations.