Florida’s population continued to get older last year from a combination of natural aging and new residents, and the state had the highest rate of residents older than 65 years old, according to estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The estimates show Florida’s population grew by 1.2 percent from 2012 to 2013, and the state had about 19.5 million residents as of July 2013.
The Census estimate had Florida trailing New York by less than 150,000 residents to be the nation’s fourth most populous state, but that estimate is now likely outdated. Florida’s growth has outpaced New York and Florida likely surpassed New York in population earlier this year to qualify as the nation’s third most populous state.
More than 232,000 new residents were added between July 2012 and July 2013, a figure that is still less than the number of new Floridians at the height of the state’s last population boom in the middle of the last decade. But University of Florida demographer Stefan Rayer said it marks a return to decent growth following stagnant population change during the recession.
“When you compare it to 2008 or 2009, when the population wasn’t growing, then it’s quite a rebound,” Rayer said.
Florida’s overall population growth was driven by migration. New residents accounted for more than 90 percent of the population growth in the past three years, and more than 80 percent of the population change from 2012 to 2013. The new residents were almost evenly split between domestic and international migration.
The median age of Floridians continued to inch up, growing from 40.8 in 2010 to 41.5 in 2013.
Sumter County had the nation’s highest percentage of seniors with more than half of its residents older than 65.
Hispanics accounted for just under a quarter of Florida’s population. The Hispanic population of 4.6 million residents increased by nearly 3 percent from 2012 to 2013.