Florida city populations swelled along with the rest of the South, Census Bureau says

Despite South Florida’s reputation as an increasingly expensive place to live, many of the region’s major cities showed gains in population between July 2022 and July 2023, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Cities with populations of 50,000 or more grew by an average of 0.2% in the Northeast and 0.1% in the Midwest after declining an average of 0.3% and 0.2%, respectively, in 2022. Those in the West went up by an average of 0.2% from 2022 to 2023,” the Bureau said in a statement. “Cities in the South grew the fastest — by an average 1.0%.”

“The population growth across the South in 2023 was driven by significant numeric and percentage gains among its cities,” said Crystal Delbé, a statistician in the Census Bureau’s Population Division. “Thirteen of the 15 fastest-growing cities were in the South, with eight in Texas alone.”

Where populations increased and decreased

Cities with populations of 50,000 or more in the South grew the fastest, by an average 1.0%. In the Northeast and the West, city growth averaged 0.2%, and in the Midwest averaged 0.1%.

Census estimates showed Port St. Lucie in the top tier of Florida cities scoring major gains, rising 5.7% to 245,021 people. Palm Bay rose by 4.9% to 135,599 while Cape Coral was up 3.5% to 224,455 people.

Closer to home, Miami saw an increase of 1.3% to 455,824, while some of Broward County’s larger cities saw their populations rise fractionally during the period. Fort Lauderdale, for example, stood at 184,255 in July 2023, with Pembroke Pines at 171,119, Hollywood at 153,859, and Miramar at 138,319.

Florida city population increases

Many of the major cities in South Florida showed gains in population between July 2022 and July 2023.

Jacksonville, whose population rose 1.4% to 986,000, was the only Florida city on the nation’s list of Top 15 most populous cities. The northeastern Florida city ranked No. 10, surpassing Austin, Texas.

New York remained the nation’s most populous city on July 1, 2023 with a population of 8.3 million, the Census Bureau said. It was followed by Los Angeles at just under 4 million, while Chicago was third at 2.7 million.

Businesses optimistic, but rising costs a concern

Regional economic development organizations say business operators in Broward and Palm Beach counties are looking for an uptick in activity that is concomitant with the population gains.

“Greater Fort Lauderdale continues to attract new residents seeking an outstanding quality of life,
competitive business and tax climate and career opportunities,” said Ron Drew, executive vice president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, in a statement Thursday. “While the cost of living has increased in South Florida, our region remains relatively affordable compared to high-cost metro areas such as the Northeast and California, from which many of our new residents are coming.”

In separate executive surveys conducted by the Kaufman Rossin CPA and business advisory firm for the alliance and for the Palm Beach County Business Development Board, many respondents said they view 2025 as a better year than 2024, with the cost and availability of employee housing remaining a major issue along with inflation and employee retention.

In both counties, employer investments will be concentrated on salaries, technology and marketing.

In Broward, respondents indicated about 65% of their workforces would be “fully on-site.” In Palm Beach County, the figure was at 68%. The balance of workers will be engaged in hybrid or fully remote work routines.

“Businesses are planning to hire and invest in their people,” according to a summary of the Palm Beach County survey, with salaries, recruitment, benefits, training and physical premises key areas where spending is targeted to increase.

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