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Census: Flagler’s Population Stalls at 91,600; 28% of Housing Units Vacant; Poverty Rising

| September 29, 2010

alberto giacometti palace at 4 a.m.

Giacometti's 'Palace at 4 a.m.' (1932)

Flagler County’s population will almost certainly not cross into six-figure territory when the decennial census figures are released next year, with vast implications for the county’s political representation and the federal and state dollars county officials were aiming to command as a more populous county.

Flagler County’s population, according to the Census Bureau’s just-released annual American Community Survey, was 91,622, a statistically insignificant increase of 375 people from 2008, and the first time in several decades that the county’s population hasn’t grown. Palm Coast’s population in the more accurate three-year survey from 2006 to 2008 was 69,155, less than the 74,000 figure commonly used by city officials as a standard benchmark.

The county’s housing situation is more dire. A stunning 28.2 percent of the 49,368 housing units in Flagler–most of them in Palm Coast–were vacant in 2009, up from 23.6 percent the previous year, and from 18.3 percent in 2006. The vacancy rate in Florida is 21 percent, up from 16.7 percent in 2006. It’s 12.6 percent in the nation. Flagler’s figure, among the highest in the nation, is a reflection of the oversupply of housing and the severe foreclosure crisis, which hit in this region more severely than in most.

The Census Bureau released its American Community Survey on Tuesday. It shouldn’t be confused with the decennial census, whose figures won;t be released until next year. The survey, designed to provide updated figures between the major count, is the annual estimate of key social, economic, demographic and housing characteristics for the more than 3,000 counties in the nation and all communities with populations larger than 65,000. Short of the actual census, which counts people living in the country, the annual survey is the most authoritative summary of the nation’s social and economic profile.

Some of Flagler County’s figures are more dire than others.

Not surprisingly, home owners’ mortgage burden has grown significantly over the years. Almost 41 percent of home-owners with a mortgage pay 35 percent or more of their income toward that mortgage. That’s up from 35 percent of mortgage holders in 2006. As adjustable mortgage rates continue to readjust upward, homeowners’ burdens grow. The median mortgage payment in Flagler County was $1,490, up $30 from the previous year.

Renters, too, are paying a larger share of their income to their landlord. In 2006, 39 percent of renters paid a third of their income or more in rent. In 2009, that proportion rose to almost half. The median rent in Flagler County was $1,067, a 9 percent increase over the previous year.

The county’s income profile is a mixed picture. Just half the county’s households are in the workforce. In contrast with the rest of the country, where it fell, median household income is up in Flagler County, to $50,180 (from $46,378). But poverty is up, too. Almost one in five Flagler County household (18.5 percent) has an income below $25,000. That’s up from 14.9 percent in 2006.

There are more households at the upper end of income brackets, too–14.5 percent have incomes of $100,000 or more, up from 12.6 percent, a reflecting of growing inequalities across the country, where income inequality is at its sharpest since 1967.

The income picture is bleaker when broken down into certain parts: While 11.5 percent of households in Flagler live in poverty (a steep rise from 7.6 percent four years ago), the proportion rises to 16.7 percent for households with children under 18, up from 11.2 percent four years ago–a big increase with big implications for the school district, which must cope with invisible costs associated with rising poverty, without additional dollars. The poverty rate rises to 21.2 percent in households with children under 5. And for households led by single mothers with children under 18, the poverty rate is a stunning 44.9 percent.

See all four data tables for Flagler County’s latest demographics:

Income, Employment and Labor Data

Social Profile: Families, Marital Status, Single Mothers, veterans

Housing, Occupancy, Values and Mortgage Burden

Population and Demographics: Age, Sex, Race

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6 Responses for “Census: Flagler’s Population Stalls at 91,600; 28% of Housing Units Vacant; Poverty Rising”

  1. Alex says:

    This report should be a mandatory reading for every Commissioner and Council person.

    We have to stop pretending that the economy will turn around soon regardless who gets elected in November.

  2. SAW says:

    Golly, everyday there is a new reason to vote YES on AMENDMENT # 4, how about we wait till we sell the 28% before we allow them build thousands more ?

  3. Billy Concerned says:

    Our county and city government leaders need to face the reality of the significant problems of this county as reflected in this report. Anybody wanting to raise taxes right now has got to be out of their mind, and that includes raising (or not cutting) millage rates while property values plummet. And when the 1% surtax on the sales tax ends it needs to stay that way. Reduce county gas taxes, cut budgets, reduce fees across the board, and stop spending now! Don’t even suggest all the people that will lose their jobs due to cuts. How many people actually have jobs in Palm Coast anyway? It’s got to be a tiny fraction, there’s no real jobs in this city unless you work for a retail store or a restaurant.

    Palm Coast is a unique city because almost all of its significant growth occurred during the housing boom years. Construction drove the local economy almost entirely. Now those construction families are gone, their houses sit empty, foreclosed, and all those local retail purchases are gone too (cars, clothes, food, entertainment, you name it) which in turn affects every one of us who have remained.

    Remember that humble county government building that used to be down in Bunnell? That’s what we need to be seeing more of. “We can’t afford new schools and new school buses.” So fix the current buses when they break and pull in portable classrooms like we used to do. “We can’t afford new fire stations.” Stop building more houses and use what we have. “We can’t afford new libraries, expanded police force, repaving roads, county parks, etc., etc..” Exactly. we can’t afford it. So stop doing it! It’s time to stop growing, the growth is finished, done!

    “But if we build 1,000 more houses it will bring the construction jobs back.” That is flawed thinking! Yes for a brief period it may, but then it will exacerbate the amount of empty houses we have, it will force property values down further, and soon the construction will end (again), and we’ll be in even worse shape then.

    Face it Palm Coast & Flagler County, the housing boom is 100% OVER. Adjust your thinking now to reality! No more massive housing developments, no more planned growth, our area needs time to stabilize. Years probably. It’s time to wake up, people, before it’s too late for our community!

    Oh, and by the way, foreclosed houses in Detroit are selling (not selling) for as little as $100 right now. A hundred bucks! And nobody will buy them! Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that could never happen here. Keep on growing and building and raising taxes and fees and it WILL happen.

    How do we get the government leaders to get this through their heads? Aren’t we (the citizens) all in agreement about this? What do we do to get them to listen?

  4. DLF says:

    How is hope and change working out for Flagler? Ask the 16% people who do not have a job, ask the people who are losing their homes. Now the crew of crooks are leaving Washington to take another vacation, one month and 3 days, thats to help us decide which one of the crooks we should elect, throw them all out. Start a new and if they don’t work out we will throw them out until we get the right people in Washington to do the job, from the TOP all the way down.

  5. John Ell says:

    Reply to Billy:

    Ok, Billy, we agree with what you have said, except when it comes to the Police.

    From experience, there is a inverse correlation which says that as the economy (money) falters impacting us, there is an expansion in crime. Ipso facto, we need our own personal protection weapons and definitely need the presence of the Police.

    There is a new breed of criminal who cares very little, if anything, for human life. The Liberals will tell us that things aren’t THAT bad, and the truth is that they are probably the main reason that society is in the trouble we are in right now. The criminals will be treacherous, especially when on the prowl for drugs. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

  6. Jay says:

    The question of the day posed in another comment is, how do we get our Legislators to listen and act accordingly. There is a time when elected officials and governments need to be reminded that in a Democracy they are there at the will of the people, and to serve the people. I realize that it sounds stale to mention that our nation was founded on a government of, by, and for the people. Not of, by, and for the government.

    Governments own nothing. Everything belongs to the taxpayers – the buildings the Legislators occupy, to their private offices, to the utility bills, and the expense accounts paid by the taxpayers – all of that is on the shoulders of the voter. Legislators are responsible to the will of the people, although we would never know it judging by the results that we see from all levels of government. That may change before too long.

    In the meantime, the Constituency must do what is necessary to convince our Legislators to act responsibly and in the best interest of our Citizens. Case in point is the position of City Manager for the City of Flagler Beach. This job has been open four years and filled all that time by a Interim City Manager, whose term comes to an end Friday, this week. At the eleventh hour the City has arrived at the realization, that it is urgent to do something which turns out to be choosing another Interim City Manager.

    Yesterday, as many have read in this paper and elsewhere, second interviews were conducted for three candidate finalists. My conclusion, being there, tells me that the first and third finalists although having some experience, gave rote, or routine answers, which indicates to me an “also ran approach”.

    The second finalist, I believe the name is Bruce Campbell, answered the questions in a more positive way which provided insight into background experience. My view of the questioning is that he did a most outstanding job of marketing himself. His packet was a strategic move at the opening bell. The
    Commissioners could follow along with his comments because he presented much
    of his experience and knowledge in the pages of the packet.

    There is not much that he hasn’t done, if anything, in the area of business
    and management that the Commission would find lacking.

    Nevertheless, Chairman Feind said that this issue would be prolonged another two
    weeks before a decision was forthcoming. This is not acceptable, we cannot continue this squirrel cage nonsense any longer at taxpayers’ expense and exasperation – going round and round in the same circles. It makes our Commission appear to be in a quandry which is a bad reflection on them and our City. There is sufficient information to prove that Mr. Campbell is the qualified candidate so let’s move on it.

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