“Growth Smarter”: Florida In-Migration to St. Petersburg

Over the past decade St. Petersburg has maintained steady population growth on par with the United States average, increasing at an average of 0.6% annually. However, some components of this population change are quite different than that of the United States.

The first difference in St. Petersburg versus the national average is the rate of natural increase (RNI)[1], which provides us with an idea of how a population is growing taking into consideration births and deaths. At a national level, the rate is 4.3 person per thousand. This means that per 1000 people living in the United States, about 4 people are gained each year.

St. Petersburg’s rate of natural increase is about half of the national average at 1.6 persons gained per thousand. What then allows St. Petersburg to maintain comparatively lower, yet stable population growth? Glad you’ve asked—the answer is migration[2].



2017 American Community Survey, 5-year estimates

In observing the chart above, from 2011 to 2017, the annual influx of people who moved to St. Petersburg from another city in Florida increased from 5,468 to 7,114, about 30%. When we examine the influx of people into St. Petersburg by race, approximately 66% of those moving into St. Petersburg in 2014 where White, with that percentage rising to 76.4% in 2017. The opposite is true for the minority in-migrant populations. The proportion of Black that moved to St. Petersburg from another city in Florida has dropped since 2014, from 22.1% to 16.3% in 2017; the Asian and Pacific Islander from 11.2% of in-migrants in 2014 to 3.1% in 2017; and finally Latinx declining less severely from 10% in 2014 to 9% in 2017.

This data tells us that the number of Floridians moving to St. Petersburg has changed demographically in recent years—the proportion of White in-migrants has substantially increased, while minority proportions have dwindled. In reality, a multitude of variables may be affecting shifting populations which is why it is paramount that in moving forward, Grow Smarter seeks to understand these vectors of change. Grow Smarter’s focus on equitable economic growth seeks to ensure that diverse viewpoints are included; as St. Petersburg moves into the 21stcentury global economy, it is imperative that we continue to attract a diverse pool of newcomers.


[1]The rate of natural increase is defined as the crude birth rate subtracted from the crude death rate, converted to change per one thousand.

[2]Unfortunately, out-migration data is not currently available via American Community Survey at the city level, so net-migration is not calculated. Instead, we’ll focus briefly on the characteristics and patterns of in-migrants to St. Petersburg.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *