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.
“Even though the state turned it around, it still represents the smallest population increase since the 1940s and does not make up for last year’s loss,” Smith said. “Florida’s population growth continues to be very, very slow by historical standards.”
Florida grew by more than 125,000 residents in every year from 1950 to 2008, he said.
It is estimated that Florida added 21,285 residents during the past year, with its total population increasing from 18,750,483 on April 1, 2009, to 18,771,768 on April 1, 2010, Smith said. The previous year it lost an estimated 56,736 residents, he said.
“Two years ago, the economy was deteriorating rapidly, while over the past year there have been some signs that it is leveling off or even improving slightly,” he said. “I think that’s the reason we’re seeing a small increase in population.
“Although technically the recession has ended, the economy continues to be in bad shape, particularly in terms of its ability to create jobs,” he said. “There have been some jobs added in the last few months, but unemployment is still very high and job growth is very weak.”
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