'No longer God's waiting room': Florida has more jobs than New York for the first time ever — here's why the trend of Americans fleeing south isn't slowing anytime soon
Florida is no longer just for grandparents and retirees, according to a new report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, it recently beat New York as the most jobs of any state — a first since the Bureau began to report these numbers in 1982.
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The Sunshine State ended last year with 9,578,500 non-farming industry jobs, compared to 9,576,100 in the Empire State.
While the gap has been closing for a while, it takes some digging to understand why. It’s not as though an obvious guess — pre-retirees riding the pandemic to move south — is a top reason.
“Florida is no longer God’s waiting room,” said Craig Studnicky, chief executive officer of ISG World, a real estate firm that specializes in South Florida luxury residential developments.
“We’re attracting businesses and young people to come from all over the country because of our low taxes and warm weather.”
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 the 9.9 million in New York. Yet with unprecedented remote work options, the reasoning among many 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, surging crime rates in the Big Apple, and soaring 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 done by the New York Post.
Still, Florida has more going for it than just former New Yorkers. High taxes in California, Pennsylvania and other states have also led to a mass migration pattern. Furthermore, Florida also led the U.S. in the formation of new businesses: more than 1.7 million since January 2020 and more than a third of those in 2022 alone.
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.
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Who does the state appeal to?
There have even been some headline-worthy moves of late as well. Hedge fund mogul Ken Griffin reported that he would locate the headquarters of his $50 billion company, l, to Miami. This came after Griffin cited soaring crime rates in Chicago (though local observers remain skeptical of his reasoning, given the relative safety of many Windy CIty neighborhoods).
As opposed to conventional snowbird migration, the Sunshine State is seeing tech and finance job opportunities spur its population uptick, along with state income taxes that amount to … bupkis. 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.
Meanwhile, Miami’s migration influx has been worth about $2 trillion in assets, according to Mayor Francis X. Suarez. And with so much growth in only about two years time, it looks as though opportunities in Florida are just warming up — while New York could take years to recover the pre-pandemic job growth it once enjoyed.
But no state of sunshine lasts forever. Florida’s newcomers also get to deal with a nasty brand of conservative politics that’s driving teachers and LGBTQ+ residents away — and may hurt the state’s image and economics in the long run.
Are those issues worth dealing with to relocate? In the long run, that remains to be seen. But for now, the influx of newbies seems to point to yes.
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