Orlando is adding 1,000 new residents a week. In fact, the larger seven-county region has been adding that many people a week for the last 60 years. Pause for a second and do the math. People aren’t just looking to visit Orlando’s world class attractions, they’re putting down roots and taking advantage of all the region has to offer. This may come as no surprise to those who see the construction and investment boom currently happening in Orlando. What might be surprising, however, is just how significant this growth is compared to other major metros across America, as well as how Orlando’s demographics differ from other Florida cities. Turns out, Orlando is in a category all its own when it comes to growth and in-migration; the dynamics of which are explored below.

From 2016 to 2017, the four-county region that makes up the Orlando Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) – Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole County – grew by 2.3 percent to reach a population of just above 2.5 million people. That is more than double the rate of growth of the United States, and the fastest growth rate of the 30 largest cities in America. For comparison, two of the other fastest growing cities in America, Atlanta and Denver, grew at 1.5 percent and 1.3 percent respectively.

Approximately 19 percent of Orlando’s population growth from 2016 to 2017 was organic; the number of births outnumber deaths in the region. The other 81 percent of the growth was due to positive net migration, both from domestic and international locations. Expanding our view to examine the greater seven-county region that makes up Central Florida (Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and Volusia County), we see that an overwhelming 91 percent of the population growth was from in-migration, translating to approximately 1,700 new residents moving to Central Florida every week.

Another way to consider the numbers: one in every 55 Orlando residents moved to the region within the last year, and one in every nine residents moved here since 2010, half of them from an international location.

One in every nine Orlando residents moved here since 2010,
half of them from an international location.

How do these numbers compare to the other fast-growing, dynamic cities in America? In Atlanta, you would need to corral twice as many people (110) to find someone who moved to the city within the last year. In Denver, almost three times as many, with a one to 152 ratio.

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Certainly, part of the reason Orlando has gained so many new residents from outside the region is thanks to Florida’s overall growth and popularity as nationwide demographics continue to shift from the Northeast south into Sun Belt states and west (see the projected state population changes shown in the map above). Overall, the top three metros in America for in-migration as a percentage of growth since 2010 were all in Florida: Tampa, Orlando and Miami.

While Florida may have a reputation as the land of snowbirds and pensioners, Orlando’s new residents are far from looking to retire. Analyzing geographic mobility data from the U.S. Census Bureau for 2016, 45 percent of new Orlando residents who moved from outside the region within the last year are prime working age – between the ages of 25 and 54 – and only nine percent are over the age of 65. Meanwhile in Tampa, 12 percent of new residents from outside the region last year were above the age of 65. None of this should come as a shock. Orlando has one of the youngest median ages in the state at just below 37, while Tampa’s median age is above the state average at 42.

Orlando’s new residents are also highly educated. A whopping 63 percent of the cohort above age 25 has at least some college education and 11 percent have a graduate or professional degree. The new cohort is also diverse; over one third of those moving into the region are Hispanic or Latino.

Using IRS migration data (the most recent dataset available being from 2015 to 2016), the origins of these new residents can be determined (at least, movers from within the United States). By aggregating counts of tax return filings of individuals who filed in a new location between 2015 and 2016, the two largest contributing metros to Orlando’s population growth have been New York City and Miami. New York takes the lead with just over 3,800 individuals moving to Orlando that year (net) and Miami comes in at number two with 2,300.

On the aggregate, when the data is overlaid with overall population growth rates, Orlando is gaining individuals from slower growth states; particularly concentrated in the Northeast and Midwest. The data is a mixed bag in high growth states, with varied ranges between metros located near each other geographically (see Southern California or Central North Carolina as examples). One possible interpretation of this phenomenon is that Orlando and other high growth regions are seeing an exchange in talent that flows in both directions.

All this data underscores the region’s strengths, and a growth mindset that doesn’t take long to discover about Orlando by just being here. New faces are moving into the region every day who are young, educated, diverse and looking to take part in Orlando’s expanding business community. They are coming from across the country, and from all over the world, giving Orlando the highest concentration of new residents of any major metro in the country. Spend any time getting to know the people who call Central Florida home and you’ll soon discover that data isn’t needed for insight into Orlando’s population boom.