Florida's population grows again after first decline since mid-1940s

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — After declining for the first time since the end of World War II, Florida’s population grew once again last year, a hopeful yet tentative sign that the worst of the recession may have passed, according to the latest preliminary population estimates from the University of Florida.

The Sunshine State is estimated to have had the modest addition of more than 21,000 residents between 2009 and 2010 after its population fell by more than 56,000 between 2008 and 2009, said Stan Smith, director of UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

Florida's population growth hits a wall

For years, Florida municipalities routinely dominated the list of the Census Bureau's fastest-growing U.S. cities.

No more.

The latest census population estimates released Tuesday show that no Florida city with more than 100,000 people ranked in the country's top 75 for growth last year. It represents a stunning reversal in the state's recent demographic history and signals the challenges Florida faces trying to rebuild a growth-based economy when growth is largely absent.

Some snowbirds haven't yet flown the coop

Sitting outside his lakefront mobile home, Lake County snowbird Dick Risch relishes the peacefulness around him.

Until recently, Risch's winter community was packed with seasonal residents. But while most part-time residents already have left, unusually chilly temperatures up North kept some snowbirds like Risch, 68, from joining the flock just yet.

For businesses that thrive on the spending of seasonal residents, these snowbird stragglers seeking to stay warm a bit longer are a welcome economic bonus.

Rubio's call to change Social Security puts him in line with experts, if not voters

WASHINGTON — From as far back as Barry Goldwater in 1964, political candidates have risked backlash in Florida for suggesting changes to Social Security. So it was remarkable to see Marco Rubio in a national TV debate with Gov. Charlie Crist call for raising the retirement age.

Blogs and Facebook groups instantly lit up. The consensus was Rubio committed a serious gaffe. Older Americans are among the most reliable voters, and in Florida, 2.4 million of them receive Social Security.

Census estimates reveal growth dynamic in Sumter

THE VILLAGES — Third time was the charm for Fritz and Tina Masur.

Little that they experienced as age-restricted homeowners in Arizona or Illinois compares with the quality of life they found during the past year in The Villages.

The experiences of the Village of Hemingway couple also provide a glimpse into the dynamics of new population estimates that ranked Sumter County last year — largely fueled by growth in The Villages — as the state’s second-fastest growing county in terms of percentage increase.

Economist predicts gradual recovery for Florida

Economist David Denslow Jr. predicted Friday that Florida's economy will continue its gradual recovery, carried by rising numbers of individuals reaching retirement and the lure of the state as a place to live.

While a depressed job market has forced families to leave the state in search of work and Florida has a persistent oversupply of housing, the longer-term view is better, he told members of the Economic Club of Florida meeting at the Civic Center.

Florida expected to start adding residents again after population decline

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It’s a small bounce, but Florida’s population should rebound this year from its first loss in more than half a century in a hopeful sign for the struggling state economy, new estimates from the University of Florida show.

The Sunshine State is expected to add about 23,000 residents between April 1, 2009, and April 1, 2010, following a loss of almost 57,000 residents the previous year, according to population projections released today by UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

Is Boomer boom for real?

Your correspondent believes demographics is destiny.

An easy thing to believe in Florida. A place where population growth -- or its sudden reversal -- can explain almost everything we do. At least those things that are explainable. Not everything is, you know.

So when the U.S. Census Bureau released a compilation of Baby Boomer statistics the other week, he took notice. Boomers are people born during the population burst between 1946-1964.

Snowbirds swoop in on home deals

DUNEDIN - You can add real estate offices after restaurants, golf courses, condos and RV parks on the list of where you will find snowbirds, the perennial winter visitors from Michigan, Ontario and other parts north who began arriving in early November.

Despite the poor economy, and stronger efforts by Western states to recruit seasonal visitors affluent enough to afford two residences, more snowbirds are expected to gather in Florida this year than last, partly because of housing prices here.

Texas, the new Florida, lures seniors with sun, low cost living

After trying out Atlanta, Miami and Pasadena, Calif., Lilian Junco decided this was the place to retire. Being near her son was the first attraction, but soon she was drawn in by the same combination of features that has lured tens of thousands of others from out of state -- Gulf Coast living, plus super-low costs.

With some of the country's cheapest prices for housing, gas and food, no state income tax and one of the most resilient economies in the nation, Galveston and other parts of the Lone Star state are emerging as the new Florida.

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