“Growth Smarter 2”, In-Migration to St. Petersburg from Outside of Florida

In our first Growth Smarter post we discussed the racial demographics of residents moving into St. Petersburg from other cities in Florida, read more about it here. From that data we learned that there is an increasing proportion of White in-migrants, compared to a decrease in minority in-migrants moving to St. Petersburg within the state of Florida. Let’s feed this curiosity further and investigate in-migration patterns from outside of the state and country.

Ultimately, the yearly influx of in-migrants, individuals moving into Florida, from outside Florida but within the United States increased from approximately 5,231 in 2011, to 7114 in 2017, that’s about a 36% increase. Further, the number of in-migrants from abroad increased from about 1,189 to 1,717, or 44%, during the same span.


Graph A

Graph B


What does this increase in migration from outside of the state and country mean for St. Petersburg? I am glad that you asked. Graph A illustrates a similar trend for individuals moving into Florida from other states as the one we saw previously of Floridians migrating into St. Petersburg from other cities; the minority proportions of in-migrants have decreased compared to the White proportion. In 2011, the percentage of white in-migrants from other states was about 77%. This number steadily increased to 86% by 2017, while the percentage of Black individuals migrating into St Pete decreased by 7% from 2011 to 2017. The average yearly percent change of the Asian/Asian Pacific Islander category has essentially remained zero, meaning that the proportion of Asian/Asian Pacific Islander in-migrants from other states has remained about 2.8% annually. Finally, the proportion of people identifying as Latinx (of any race) migrating from other states, on average, has decreased -0.3% since 2011 to 7.8% in 2017[1].

Looking at this same data for those migrating from abroad, or outside of the United States, we find that the only decline took place in the percentage of migrants identifying as White, dropping from 71% in 2011 to 61% in 2017 (see Graph B). Black and Asian/Asian Pacific Islander in-migrants from abroad proportions remained relatively unchanged between 2011 and 2017—Black remaining at about 20%; and Asian/Asian Pacific Islander decreasing from 18% to 15%. The Latinx population from abroad appears to be highly susceptible to annual fluctuations, with a high of 17%, a low of 1%, and an average of about 9%.[2]

Overall, it appears that the proportions of in-migrants that are White from somewhere within the United States, have generally increased in comparison to minority in-migrant shares. The only exception being in-migrants from outside of the United States—where the White proportion has decreased nearly 10% from 2011 to 2017, while minority proportions have remained relatively static.

Considering that in-migrants from abroad compose approximately 11% of all individuals moving to St. Petersburg, a large majority of all in-migrants are still increasingly White. However, a key piece of our puzzle remains, out-migration. Who is leaving, and why? Ultimately, we must seek to understand what it is that attracts a proportionally larger demographic versus another, and what is causing others to leave. Grasping these trends and the stories behind them are extremely beneficial to Grow Smarter’s mission of equitable economic growth.


[1]Race/ethnicity categories may not equal 100% due to the reporting of Hispanic or Latino origin as any race within the American Community Survey.

[2]An important reminder moving forward is that, the American Community Survey, unlike a nationwide census, is based off sampling techniques, rather than attempting to count each individual within a set place. In short, these are estimates, with margins of error that increase as the land mass of a selected geography decreases.


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