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Florida Moves Ahead of New York on Population List

December 23, 2014 - 6:00pm

Florida has topped New York in terms of population.

The Sunshine State, averaging 803 new residents a day, is now the third most-populous state in the nation, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released Tuesday.

"It is an important milestone because it reflects many years of rapid population growth in Florida," Stan Smith, program director of the University of Floridas Bureau of Economic and Business Research, said in an email. "Population growth is important because it is a major driver of the state's economic growth and has transformed many aspects of life in Florida."

The new numbers aren't surprising. But they help prepare state officials for a wide range of issues, from services needed for elderly residents to the stresses put on the natural environment.

More people also mean a larger congressional delegation. In 1910, New York had 43 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to Florida's four. Both states now have 27 seats.

Gov. Rick Scott called the demographic milestone "exciting" news and pointed to his efforts to increase jobs and boost the economy in Florida.

"Florida is on the way to become the No. 1 destination for jobs and we continue to be the best place to live, work and raise a family," Scott said in a prepared statement. "I look forward to more people and more job creators moving to Florida in the near future."

Scott has often appeared on national cable news programs telling people to move to Florida. New York was also one of the states in which Scott wrote open letters to business owners in 2012 and 2013 touting the economic benefits of Florida.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce praised Scott and the state's Republican leadership for the population growth.

"People have been comparing apples and oranges for a long time," the business group said on its website. "Now they're choosing oranges, and calling Florida home. Thanks to Gov. Scott and the Florida Legislature, Florida is now the third most populous state, we're creating jobs faster than New York, have the fifth best business tax climate compared to New York (49) and Florida has zero state income tax."

As of July 1, there were an estimated 19,893,297 Floridians, compared to 19,746,227 people who called the Empire State home.

With the U.S. population up 2.4 million to 318.9 million, California remains atop the list of states with 38.8 million residents, followed by the 26.96 million Texans.

Between July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014, Florida added 293,000 residents, while New York grew by 51,000.

Only California, with 451,321 new residents, and Texas, with 371,107 additional residents, were credited with larger single-year increases.

New York long held the No. 1 spot, grabbing that position from Virginia before the 1810 census. But New York got topped by California prior to the 1970 census and surpassed by Texas after the 1990 census.

Florida, which in 1900 had just over a half million residents, joined the top 10 most-populous states with the 1960 census.

Florida's 1.5 percent increase over the past year was the fifth-fastest growth rate among the states.

The nation's growth rate advanced at 0.75 percent the past year.

North Dakota, with a 2.2 percent growth rate, was the nation's fastest growing, and the only state among the top 10 outside the South or West.

Six states had drops in population: Illinois, West Virginia, Connecticut, New Mexico, Alaska and Vermont.

Among the top 10 most-populous states, Georgia, eighth on the list, went over the 10 million resident mark with the latest figures. Meanwhile, North Carolina is now in ninth place, moving ahead of Michigan.

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