Well, pigs should start to fly any day here.
Since well before I was born in Florida half a century ago, the state’s population grew steadily. When I was covering growth and development in Palm Beach County in the mid-1980s, as the county was leading the pack in population growth for the country, it was an article of faith that Yankees tired of snow and others would continue to swell the population of the Sunshine State.
Now, though, comes news that the recession has finally ended that trend. Florida’s population of 18.6 million — that number makes me shudder, after being away for a decade — came down by 58,000 in the last year.
You’d have to go back to when members of the armed services were leaving Florida bases in 1946, at the conclusion of World War II, to find the last time the Sunshine State’s population dipped.
According to a story by Mark Caputo in The Miami Herald, there are some 400,000 homes on the market in Florida, and last year the state shed some 392,000 jobs. Almost a one-to-one ratio.
Now, it seems unlikely that this trend will continue, frankly. It’s a bit comical to hear business interests address this situation. Listen to Barney Bishop, head of the business lobby Associated Industries of Florida. In one breath, he mentions how, because past growth was never paid for, the state faces a $32 billion backlog of work on roads, bridges, sewers, and so forth. And in the next breath?
This is devastating. We need growth. Growth equals jobs. If we don’t grow, we don’t have jobs.
I guess some things will never change.