May 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Florida sees big migration gains during pandemic

Data: LinkedIn; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Florida's largest metro areas are collectively seeing the largest population gains in the country, according to the latest LinkedIn migration analysis shared with Axios.

Why it matters: The pandemic has accelerated out-migration from the biggest urban areas as the flexibility of remote work allows people to explore non-traditional options, So far, Florida has been a huge beneficiary of that trend.

Details: More people are choosing places with plenty of space and lower costs — Jacksonville, Salt Lake City, Cleveland and Colorado Springs — according to LinkedIn analysis of users' profile location changes between November 2020 and April 2021, compared to the same period a year earlier.

  • Meanwhile, San Francisco showed the largest decline of in-migration over the past year, compared with the previous year, followed by New York, Seattle and Portland.
  • Jacksonville, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale metro area and Tampa Bay are in the top 10 cities in the country seeing high in-migration. Orlando came in the 15th slot with 2.16% year-over-year in-migration.

The other side: The growth of smaller and mid-sized cities doesn't sound a death knell for the top metros. Many people leaving San Francisco and New York didn't ditch their metro areas altogether — they moved to surrounding suburbs.

  • While Florida has an appealing climate and tax code, its business environment isn't as robust as the more established corporate hubs.
  • That could make it harder to attract venture capital investment and talent needed for fast-growing startups to succeed in the long term.
  • Home prices are rapidly increasing as newcomers move into the state. Heat and hurricanes have also helped drive others to leave, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Zoom in: Miami mayor Francis Suarez has been a huge booster of the city's tech chops to draw entrepreneurs and investors, and he seems to have succeeded in creating significant buzz for the city as a launching pad for creative-industry careers.

  • Orlando has tried to brand itself as an entertainment and sports hub, thanks to the presence of Disney, and has worked on expanding its reputation as a health care center.
  • Tampa Bay has a more diverse corporate landscape, driven by tourism, health care, finance and construction.
  • Jacksonville is Florida's most populous city and also the largest city in the contiguous U.S. in terms of area. It's a major transportation hub for the southeastern states and also has a legacy in manufacturing and the oil and gas industries.

The bottom line: It's unclear whether these trends will reverse as pandemic restrictions ease up.

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