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Florida vs. New York

Studnicky’s wording includes an important clue to who’s driving the growth in Florida: “Young people,” not their grandparents or parents. But if the age demographics are shifting, the pandemic still acted as a prime mover, with remote working the driver.

Pre-COVID, Florida had just over 9 million jobs in the state, compared to 9.9 million in New York. Yet, with unprecedented remote work options, the reason among many to move south amounted to this: Why trudge to a cubicle in a biting blizzard when you can do the same job in flip-flops from a beach cabana?

And the southern migration doesn’t look likely to slow anytime soon. New York continues to struggle with its post-COVID recovery, along with high inflation, interest rates and taxes. In fact, more than 64,500 former New Yorkers left for Florida last year alone, according to analysis of Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles data by the New York Post.

Still, Florida has more going for it than former New Yorkers. The state has apparently led the U.S. in the formation of new businesses: more than 1.7 million since January 2020 with more than a third of those in 2022 alone. A March 2023 report by the Department of Economic Opportunity also shows a 0.7% decrease in unemployment since last year. From February 2022 to February 2023, Florida's labor force grew by 2.3%. In contrast, the nation's labor force grew by 1.5% during the same period.

Since the pandemic, Florida has continued to hit record after demographic record, becoming the fastest-growing state since 1957, BLS numbers show. Its population ballooned to 22.2 million residents between 2021 and 2022: a year-over-year jump of 1.9%, making Florida the third-most populous state in the U.S.

Meanwhile, the Empire State saw the largest population decrease in the last year, though not a huge one as numbers go. Of all 50 states, New York lost roughly 180,000 residents, its population falling by 0.9% to 19.6 million.

Who does the state appeal to?

Hedge fund mogul Ken Griffin made headlines in 2022 when he reported that he would relocate the headquarters of his $50 billion hedge fund, Citadel, from Chicago to Miami. Citadel is currently leasing space in the Southeast Financial Center, Florida's tallest office building. However, the company also paid over $300 million for multiple lots for Citadel's proposed Florida locations. The plans include a 1,000-foot skyscraper that will likely take more than five years to build.

Miami’s migration influx has been worth about $2.5 trillion in assets under management over the past two years, Mayor Francis X. Suarez recently told Fox Business.

While Citadel is a big player, it isn't the only strong financial presence in Florida. As opposed to conventional snowbird migration, the Sunshine State is seeing tech and finance job opportunities spur its population uptick. There's also the added allure of lower taxes. Florida has no personal income tax at the state or local level. Compare that to Illinois, where income is taxed at 4.95%, or New York, where it’s 4% to 10.9%, with an additional income tax for Big Apple residents.

With so much growth in such a short amount of time, it looks as though opportunities in Florida are just warming up — while New York could take years to recover toward the pre-pandemic job growth it once enjoyed.

But no state of sunshine lasts forever. Can Florida maintain its current rate of growth? Time will tell.

Amy Legate-Wolfe Freelance contributor

Amy Legate-Wolfe is an experienced personal finance writer and journalist. She has a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Toronto, a Freelance Writing Certificate in Journalism from the University of Toronto Schools, and a Master of Arts in Journalism from Western University. Amy has worked for Huffington Post, CTVNews.ca, CBC, Motley Fool Canada, and Financial Post. She is skilled at analyzing trends and creating content for digital and print platforms. In her free time, Amy enjoys reading and watching British dramas on BritBox. She is a mother and dog-mom to a Wheaten Terrier.


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