Census figures released Thursday are a balm to anyone who longs for the days before social distancing, particularly to those bullish on local growth: Flagler County’s population grew 20.3 percent between 2010 and 2019, to 115,000 people, ranking the county as the 87th fastest growing in the nation. Ten years ago the county’s population was 95,692.
Flagler was one of 15 Florida counties that made the top-100 fastest growing counties in the nation. There are 3,142 counties and county equivalents in the United States, according to the Census Bureau’s so-called “Vintage 2019” figures.
But the starker trend is the demographic make-up behind those numbers: Flagler County has gotten sharply older in the past decade, with implications for local health care, social services, schools, even politics.
Just 16.9 percent of Flagler’s population is 18 or younger, while 30.7 percent is 65 and over. Ten years ago, 19 percent were 18 or younger, while just 24 percent were 65 or over. Demographically, socially and economically, that is a rapid and very significant shift.
That shift is even more arresting in actual numbers: Ten years ago the population 18 and younger was 18,181. Today, it’s 19,435. Ten years ago the population 65 and older was 22,966. Today, it’s 35,305. Put another way, more than 12,000 of the net new arrivals were in the 65-and-older group.
Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly and the county’s fire services have been pointing out that calls for service, medical service among them, have been increasing rapidly. The demographic numbers are one explanation: older people require disproportionately more medical attention than younger people.
The Flagler County school district’s enrollment make the point just as starkly: enrollment has remained remarkably, stubbornly flat in the 10 years covered by the Census figures. Enrollment was 12,981 in April 2010. It was 12,833 in April 2019.
Drilling further into those enrollment numbers points to a slightly diminishing number of students in the lower elementary grades compared to middle and high school: those moving into Flagler are disproportionately older families without school-age children. That could spell trouble ahead for the district as it seeks to renew a half-cent sales tax–the tax whose revenue paid for the district’s one-to-one computer initiative, placing a computer in the hands of every student, and making the district’s remote education, starting Monday, possible.
That’s a sharp difference with St. Johns County, where the growth rate among families with school-age children has been so pronounced that the school district developed plans to build one school per year.
The increasingly older population in Flagler has meant increasingly engaged voters: the older the voter, the more likely the voter is to be registered and to cast ballots in an election, with older voters preferring to vote by mail or to vote early. All those trends have been validated in recent elections, with 87,936 of the county’s residents registered to vote–what would amount to an 89 percent registration rate among adults in the county.
Flagler County is also getting somewhat more white and more Hispanic, with blacks diminishing. The population was 82 percent white 10 years ago. It’s now 83.9 percent white. The proportion of African-Americans is falling, from 11.4 percent in 2010 to 10.7 percent in 2019. The proportion of Asians has risen slightly from 2.1 percent to 2.6 percent. And what the Census Bureau categorizes as “persons of Hispanic or Latino origin” have seen their proportion go from 8.6 percent to 10.5 percent.
The fastest-growing county in the nation was Williams, in North Dakota, growing at a rate of 68 percent, that growth fueled by the fracking boom in that state which has come to a crashing end in recent months because of the collapse of the price of oil. Three counties in texas are among the top five fastest-growing, followed by Florida’s Sumter County, in sixth place, growing by 41.7 percent in the last decade.
The other top-100 counties are Osceola (39.8 percent), St. Johns (39.3), Walton (34.6), Manatee (24.9), Lee (24.5), Lake (23.6), Santa Rosa (21.8), Orange (21.6), Nassau (20.9), Polk (20.4), Flagler (20.3), Hillsborough (19.7), Collier (19.7) and Pasco (19.2).
In the decade ending in 2010, Flagler and Sumter counties had been Florida’s fastest-growing.
Flagler County’s annual growth rate steepened in the last year the Census Bureau calculated–from July 2018 to July 2019–growing at a 2.7 percent rate and adding 3,000 people, which appears to be the largest single-year total in the past decade. Flagler ranked 80th in the nation in past-year growth rate.
The numbers may all be impacted by the coronavirus recession, depending on its severity.
Vintage 2019 is the last series of population estimates to be released before the completion of the 2020 Decennial Census, which is currently underway across the nation. Data from the 2020 Census will be released beginning this December and running all through 2021.
You can tell by all the cars on the road. It’s impossible to go a few miles during lunch break anymore. I moved to FL a zillion years ago for college to get away from the crazy up North, and after school settled on this town because it worked…well…crazy followed.
Mary Fusco says
Funny, “older families” without children still pay taxes. I haven’t had a child in school in 35 years and yet I still pay school taxes. How is that a problem?
@MaryFusco I’ve NEVER had a child in public school and have always paid school tax. It’s just the way things work.
BORED? RETIRED? Here’s something to think about. . . giving your life for the conservative cause:
Forget “15 days to slow the spread.” A growing chorus of conservatives have started arguing that older adults should voluntarily return to work to save the country from financial ruin.
Call it “economic patriotism.”
The proposal has taken root in some conservative circles, filtering up from far-right websites to radio pundits to a few prominent politicians to, finally, Fox News. To its proponents, the approach is merely the cold reality that the country needs to avoid another Great Depression. To its detractors, it’s like a battlefield cry to offer up your own life for the sake of the gross domestic product. To health professionals, it’s a recipe for extending the coronavirus pandemic.
B. Informed says
Stop spreading crazy crap. The whole IDEA of STOP THE SPREAD is to SAVE lives…Lives of older Americans, as well as anyone else including immune compromised. THE President has spoken numerous times that the health and the welfare of the American people are first and foremost, and of course the economy comes second. PLEASE stop fearmongering.
Yes, we are growing and we are aging, but your statement : “Ten years ago the population 65 and older was 22,966. Today, it’s 35,305. Put another way, more than 12,000 of the net new arrivals were in the 65-and-older group. ” is not correct.
I am in the 65+ age group but when I moved here in 1997 I was in my very early 50’s. I did not arrive in the last 10 years. Many of my friends arrived here well over 15 years ago. Most of us worked outside the county. Either in Volusia or St. John’s or Duval. And we stayed. Many move-ins are young families and balance out the aging population. If they weren’t we’d have an even higher percentage of people 65+
Many 65+ in that time frame have probably passed away or moved so “net” being the operative word is probably pretty accurate. With boomers retiring and relocating to the south many warmer climate areas are seeing an increase of 65+ residents.
For Glenn Beck fans:
One day after Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick suggested seniors like himself should be OK with dying to save the US economy during the coronavirus outbreak, Glenn Beck appears willing to take him up on his offer. Per the Daily Beast, the conservative radio host told his listeners Tuesday that a “frank conversation” was needed on the subject of President Trump possibly lifting social-distancing restrictions. Beck first admitted that if that happened, he himself would be in peril. “I mean, I’m in the danger zone. I’m right at the edge, I’m 56,” he said. “In Italy they’re saying if you’re sick and you’re 60, don’t even come in. So I’m in the danger zone.” Then Beck laid out how he was OK with taking one for the team to get everything up and running again. “I would rather have my children stay home and all of us who are over 50 go in and keep this economy going and working,” he noted.
“Even if we all get sick, I’d rather die than kill the country,” he added. “‘Cause it’s not the economy that’s dying—it’s the country.”
Its an interesting idea but needs further thought and good implementation for a number of reasons.
(1) A flood of elderly “heroes” sallying forth to aid society sounds like a disastrous recipe for even MORE spreading of the corona virus which we really don’t know enough about at this point, with dips followed by a possible second wave of infections after April 15 (or summer) making for a situation still requiring caution.
2) The naive “15 days to slow the spread” meme which seems to be the main rallying or talking point around which this idea has taken hold is irresponsible at this point, especially when places like Italy and Spain with thousands dead demonstrate what can happen. Sorry, the crisis is not a simple, quickie “15 day” “break” period, and simplistic claims that “things will get moving by Easter” are hardly a good bet, though there are many who want simplistic answers.
3) The post-corona economy will sorely need PAID jobs that unemployed and younger people looking to get a foothold in the economy can use desperately. A flood of senior “volunteers” may be good for some things- street cleanups, transport, mask fabrication, etc etc, but they will not necessarily be “volunteering” everywhere. They will want to be paid. This will in some areas, displace persons who don’t have pensions, social security, trust funds, stocks and bonds, real estate, and tax accountants to fall back on.
Kudos to those volunteers who are delivering groceries to shut-ins, transporting them and others to medical appointments, sewing credible home-crafted masks etc etc. And kudos to those putting out some money NOW to help others rather than wait for this hoped for Glenn Beck “army” to spring into action on a magical Easter date. And thy are don’t it now without wanting clamoring to get publicity or fawning self-congratulatory attention. They could teach many deep-pocketed but shallow Hollywood celebrities, who seem to be mostly about “tweeting” selfies, and whining bout how bad they got it having to stay at home in their million dollar dwellings.
More people more problems. This used to be a nice quiet area, not anymore. This is just a subdivision of Jacksonville now! Strip malls, gas stations, every 1/2 mile, no more lush forest, ridiculous!
Flagler is the ” Little County that Couldn’t “. Its turned into a mini Ft. Lauderdale !
LOL NOT even close. Broward has a population of nearly 2 MILLION Flagler just overr 100K
Low Wages No Future says
Unless connected to the tourist industry or “working from home” why would anyone move here during their prime earning years?
Here Spot says