Florida Demographics Study: Changing demographics in the central Gulf Coast of Florida

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Introduction

That Florida is generally growing is not a secret. What may be surprising is Pinellas County, Florida — the most prominent example of the demographic changes accompanying Florida's growth. The shift in average age here over the last four and a half years is striking; the entire area is rapidly getting younger.

This youthful influx of population signals change in Pinellas County, most notably in a handful of zip codes far removed from a city center. In fact, that’s exactly what new migrants here seem to be trying to escape.

Below, we examine Pinellas County and its communities scattered across the local map. In each case, we’ll look at population growth trends and ask how the demography of newcomers may change these communities in the coming years.

Methodology

We used Unacast Insights, our location intelligence platform, to study population movement between Q1 2019 and Q2 2023 throughout Florida. We worked from the county level to the zip code level in order to find the most interesting population trends. We focused on population growth areas, which weren’t hard to find outside of cities, and looked for compelling indicators in the data. All screen shots and data are directly from Unacast Insights.

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Pinellas County 

Pinellas County forms the Gulf Coast boundary of the Tampa MSA. In that regard, it is part of the Tampa area. But zoom in a little closer and the differences between Pinellas County and the city’s Hillsborough County become easy to see.


While Tampa and Hillsborough County have lost population and gotten older on average since 2019, just across the bay, Pinellas County is growing in population (~+1.5% since Q1 2019), while getting significantly younger (~10 years or 20%). The new folks are mostly local transplants from Tampa to the west or Pasco County to the north. Chicago is the largest out-of-state origin of newcomers.


While the numbers in Pinellas County on the whole are notable, in specific zip codes and communities the change in demography is even more remarkable, as we’ll get into below.

Indian Beach, Clearwater, and more

These youthful growth trends are most pronounced in zip codes along the Gulf Coast, such as 33785 (Indian Beach), which has seen population growth of more than 10 percent over the last four and a half years. More pointedly, newcomers here are on average 25 years younger than incumbents (33 vs. 58). 

Note that Indian Beach is not alone in this transformation. Farther north in Pinellas County is Clearwater, where the age gap between new folks and embedded residents is almost 30 years. Here are two more Pinellas County zip codes with similar trends:

34698 | Dunedin

The population of Dunedin has grown a manageable 3.5 percent since Q1 of 2019, but the new faces are much younger — about 20 years on average. That’s the difference between a population with kids in school, and a population of empty nesters. Younger families will want changes.


33708 | Madeira Beach

The population here has grown more than 16 percent in the last four and a half years. Newcomers are 26 years younger than the average embedded resident and earn just a little less money. Many are moving here from Seminole, in Pinellas County, to the north of Saint Petersburg.

 
We’ve highlighted just a few zip codes and towns here. The truth is, there are many throughout Pinellas County that are getting younger. To see more from Unacast Insights, book a demo with us today.

Summary

This influx of youthful energy and capital in Pinellas County has massive implications for future infrastructure requirements and understanding how dynamic trade areas are changing as a result of this shift to a rapidly growing and much younger population. 

In the big picture, one can envision a changing of the guard among preferred local retail brands, putting new site selection and competitive intelligence use cases up front. Those in their early thirties also don’t require the same types of housing or services as 58 year olds, so there is a solid indicator for commercial real estate investors and residential developers.

Swapped onto almost any other state's map and Indian Beach or Clearwater would be an anomaly of sustained, youthful growth. In Pinellas County, however, they’re just another zip code that is undergoing a rapid transformation.

Dunedin, Madeira Beach, and other communities have similar characteristics, which is why Pinellas County is one of the most unique we have studied in the United States. Looking at the rate of change in population growth and demography in so many areas, it is easy to envision Pinellas County as quite a different place in another 10 years.

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