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    24-million Floridians and counting by 2030

    Demographers say the state's population will jump by almost 8-million in three decades, much of it coming from migration.

    By Times staff and wire reports
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published February 13, 2003

    Florida's population is expected to swell by nearly 8-million residents to 24.4-million by 2030, according to the latest projections by University of Florida researchers.

    The Tampa Bay area will help fuel that growth, but not as explosively as in some past years.

    Hillsborough County is expected to add more than half a million residents between 2000 and 2030, the period of the projections. The increase of 538,976 would be the fifth-highest among Florida's counties.

    Pinellas County is expected to grow by 174,022 residents, the 16th-highest increase. Researchers said the smaller growth expected in Pinellas is partly due to its having less undeveloped land to accommodate new housing.

    Pasco is projected to add 188,042 residents by 2030. Thirty-year increases for Hernando and Citrus counties are forecast at 78,150 and 64,474, respectively.

    "The growth will continue to be relatively steady, with each of the next three decades adding between 2.62-million and 2.99-million people to the state," said June Nogle, a demographer with UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

    Florida's population in the 2000 census was 15.9-million and had reached 16.7-million by 2002, according to UF estimates.

    Migration from other states and abroad is expected to account for about 85 percent of the population expansion, Nogle said, with the rest coming from natural increases of births over deaths.

    Flagler County, a midsized county on the state's northeast coast, will see the biggest percentage increase, jumping from 49,832 residents to 123,000, a 147 percent increase, she said.

    Four other midsized counties -- Sumter, Osceola, Collier and Walton -- are expected to increase by 110 percent or more over their 2000 populations.

    "They're all a little bit different, but Flagler, Sumter and Osceola resemble one another in that they're in the path of development," Nogle said.

    "Flagler, for instance, is sandwiched between Jacksonville and Daytona, and the other two counties are in Central Florida, which is strongly impacted by the growth of Orlando," she said.

    The percentage of Hillsborough County's expected population increase -- 54 percent by 2030 -- is just the 31st-highest in the state. Pinellas ranks 65th out of 67 counties in the same category.

    Hernando is expected to be among the fastest-growing counties in this area by percentage, with a ranking of 22nd.

    -- Times staff writer Curtis Krueger contributed to this report, and information from the Associated Press was used.

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