Fla. lost construction, gained health care jobs in recovery

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Florida gained more wealthy residents but also more families living below the poverty line between 2010 and 2015 when the Sunshine State participated in an economic recovery from a devastating housing crash and the worst recession in decades.

New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau Thursday shows that during the recovery, jobs were lost in construction, real estate, government and manufacturing. But jobs were gained in education, health care, tourism and professional positions.

During the same time, Florida residents got older and more diverse.

Here’s a look at how Florida has changed during the years of economic recovery.


As a state, Florida has gotten older in the past five years. The median age went from 40.3 in 2010 to 41.4 in 2015.

No county aged more than Sumter County, home of the retirement haven, The Villages. The median age went from 61.4 to 65.3, and the percentage of residents over age 65 jumped from 40 percent to more than 50 percent.

Only five counties in Florida got younger – and they were all located in the Panhandle. Two of the counties – Escambia and Okaloosa – have major military bases.


Florida also got more diverse in the past five years.

The percentage of non-Hispanic whites dropped from 78.4 percent in 2010 to 76.3 percent in 2015.

The increase in diversity was driven by gains in the Hispanic population, which grew by 665,000 residents. Florida’s population of around 20 million people is now slightly less than a quarter Hispanic.

In pure numbers, Cubans led the way with a gain of more than 209,000 residents. But Puerto Ricans weren’t far behind, increasing by 185,000 residents. Florida now has 1.3 million residents of Cuban descent, living primarily in South Florida; almost 1 million residents of Puerto Rican descent, concentrated in central Florida; almost 670,000 residents of Mexican descent, living primarily in agriculture areas of south-central Florida; and 1.6 million residents of various other Hispanic backgrounds.


Florida has added 323,000 new workers to the labor force since 2010.

But the percentage of residents of working age who weren’t in the labor force has grown from 38.7 percent to 40.8 percent, an indication that some workers have given up on looking jobs. Florida’s rate is one of the nation’s highest, given its large number of retirees and residents over age 65.

There were winners and losers as Florida’s economy emerged from the doldrums of a half-decade ago.

Florida lost 340,000 manufacturing and almost 150,000 construction jobs. Manufacturing makes up only around 5 percent of Florida’s labor force, and construction work has bounced back, but not necessarily construction workers since many moved out of state following the housing bust.

The loss of jobs in those sectors was offset by healthy gains in health care, hospitality, professional and retail workers.

The percentage of Floridians working at home increased from 4.4 percent to 5.1 percent, just as commuting times increased. Floridians now spend an average of 26.4 minutes traveling to work compared to 25.7 minutes five years ago.


Florida’s share of wealthy residents increased in the past five years. The percentage of households earning more than $200,000 a year jumped from 3.6 percent to 4.1 percent. At the same time, the percentage of families with income below the poverty line increased from 9.9 percent to 12 percent. Median household income roughly stayed the same at $47,600.

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