Census: Fewer Non-Hispanic Whites Moving to Florida

Georgia East and John Maines, South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale), May 1, 2008

Florida is not as popular as it used to be among whites who are not Hispanic, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released today.

As recently as 2005 the state held the No. 1 spot for growth among non-Hispanic whites, but today’s report shows a major shift to the 29th spot.

In the one-year period between July 2006 and June 2007, the growth in the number of non-Hispanic whites came to a standstill, increasing a mere 4,833 people, the census reported.

The growth was a fraction of the 124,000 increase in the same group reported two years earlier.

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“It’s certainly true that the non-Hispanic white population in Florida is declining and will continue to decline,” said Stan Smith, director of the Bureau of Economic Business Research at the University of Florida.

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Broward County’s population became “majority minority” in 2005. Minorities now make up slightly more than half the population.

Palm Beach County is slightly more than one-third minority.

Mary Raynor said the makeup of her East Miramar neighborhood has changed dramatically in the 50 years that she’s lived there.

“It used to be all white,” said Raynor, who lives in an enclave that was once mostly Italian. “Now, more than half of the people here are Hispanic or from the Caribbean.”

In Boca Raton, Realtor Barry Rothman said more people of color are inquiring about homes in neighborhoods they rarely asked about years ago.

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At a time when the growth in the number of non-Hispanic whites has stalled, the state’s minority population continues to rise.

Latest figures show Florida had the third-highest increase in Hispanics between 2006 and 2007. The Hispanic population grew by about 131,000, with only Texas and California drawing higher numbers.

Florida’s black population increased as well, growing 43,000. It is third behind Texas. Georgia ranked highest.

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“It’s a lot more complex than the idea of white flight,” said Richard Ogburn, with the South Florida Regional Planning Council.

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With some Baby Boomers on the cusp of retirement, Florida could once again regain popularity. But the state faces competition among retirees from other countries and southern states that offer a warm climate and lower cost of living.

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