While Florida has the fastest growing population in the United States, its most populated county may have lost population, according to the latest figures released by the U.S. Census.
Between April 1, 2020 and July 1, 2022, Miami-Dade County’s population fell 1% to 2.67 million, U.S. Census figures stated, a loss of 27,930 people. In contrast, Florida gained 706,636 people in that time, a rise of 3.3% to 22.24 million.
South Florida’s other two counties grew as well. Between April 2020 and July 2022, Broward’s population went up by 2,651 people to 1.95 million, an increase of 0.1%. Palm Beach County’s population climbed by 26,286 to 1.52 million, a hike of 1.8%.
Florida’s population growth since the pandemic has been a major selling point for South Florida brokers, developers, and property owners, particularly since many new people coming in are households with high-net worths. According to the IRS, $23.7 billion in net new taxable income flowed toward Florida in 2020, the most of any state. This rise of population, and transfer of wealth, has helped push vacancy levels down and rents up for multifamily apartments, industrial, retail, and office in South Florida.
But it’s also helped make South Florida the most rent-burdened place in the U.S. According to a recent study from Realtor.com, South Florida renters spend 42.3% of their income on rent, an amount that is greater than any other major metro area.
“The population dip doesn’t surprise him since Miami-Dade is the only county in Florida that has not fully recovered its pre-Covid-19 workforce,” said Edward “Ned” Murray, associate director of the Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center at Florida International University. “Miami-Dade County’s labor force is down 6,533 workers from February 2020.”
“There has been a years long trend of Miami-Dade moving northward,” said Maria Ilcheva, assistant director of planing and operations at FIU’s Metropolitan Center. “But this trend has been exasperated as the cost of living rises in an area that primarily offers lower wages compared to other labor markets, she added. This has caused enrollment at local colleges to decline, she said, and made it more difficult for employers to fill positions. Based on job postings data, it takes employers a longer time to find workers.”
“Miami-Dade County’s population drop may also simply be because many of its residents aren’t being counted,” said Ken H. Johnson, an economist and real estate professor at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business. “They live in Miami-Dade but they are not showing up on the rolls as living here because their permanent address is in New York, Boston, or Los Angeles. And there is still a lot of people there that are from other parts of the world.”
According to statistics from StatsAmerica, an online radius data tool run by the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, Miami-Dade County’s anticipated population growth in the next 10 years is just 3.8%. In contrast, Broward’s anticipated 10-year growth is 7.3% and Palm Beach County 12.1% in the next 10 years. Further north in St. Lucie, Indian River, and Martin counties, the population is expected to grow 20.2% in 10 years.
“Data confirms that populations are shifting northward and that Miami-Dade’s lack of affordable housing is having some impact on the expected growth rate,” Johnson said.
South Florida’s rents skyrocketed as high as 32% year-over-year since the pandemic. However, Johnson said that rent growth is finally moderating. According to the Waller, Weeks, and Johnson Rental Index (co-created by FAU), the average monthly rent in South Florida was $2,760 in February, an increase of 7.77% from last year and a decrease of 0.25% from the previous month.
“I think this is a good sign… The supply and the demand is coming more into balance. We should expect more stable rent prices,” Johnson said. “But we still have to deal with the fact that the rents are very high and our incomes are not growing as fast” as rental rates.