Florida's Economic, Social & Political Growth

Instructor: James Walsh

M.B.A. Veteran Business and Economics teacher at a number of community colleges and in the for profit sector.

A warm subtropical climate makes tourism Florida's number one industry, but the economy has other interesting features too. Let's explore its reputation as a place to retire, and its demographic diversity.

Population Growth

Fred had some exciting news to tell the family as he hurried home from work. Fred works for a national hotel chain and he has just been promoted to manager. The best part is where he will be relocated, Florida!

It turns out Fred and his family aren't the only ones moving to Florida, many other families and individuals have done so already. Florida's population has skyrocketed over the past thirty years. It's now the third most populous state in the union, behind only California and Texas. It's population grew from 12 million people in 1990 to over 20 million in 2015. That is a 66% increase - no other state in the union has grown so fast!

Why Move to Florida?

The biggest reason people move to Florida is probably the weather. While it is subtropical and therefore hot and humid in the summer, the rest of the year is close to perfect. The average high in Central Florida is 70 degrees in January and that is as low as it gets! The winter vacationer is greeted with comfortable weather and lots of sunshine.

Fine weather draws many people to Florida

Another reason is the water. Florida has 2,200 miles of shoreline. No one in Florida is more than a few hours from the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico. The beaches are some of the world's finest, and an inexpensive day at one of them is always a year round alternative. If you like to fish or scuba dive, or just lounge around soaking up the rays, Florida is your paradise.

Florida's Economy


Fred's wife is excited about going to Florida too. She is a restaurant manager, so she is very likely to get a job in Florida. Why? Because tourism is the biggest driver of economic activity there, and that means lots of hotels and restaurants!

97 million people visited Florida in 2014, many of them from overseas. People from the Northern US come for the great weather and sandy beaches. But don't forget baseball spring training and those world famous theme parks.

Florida's Walt Disney World is the largest single site employer in the nation, with an annual payroll of over one billion! Eight of the top 20 theme parks in the United States are located here.

Walt Disney World is the largest single site employer in Florida and the nation
disney world

The three largest cruise lines in the U.S. are based in Florida, and they take over 6 million passengers each year on a variety of cruises to the Caribbean. Overall, Florida has over 1.1 million jobs in tourism-related industries. When it comes to Florida's economy, tourism is truly king!


But tourism isn't Florida's only industry. The word 'Florida' is practically synonymous with 'citrus'. Despite the recent problems with Citrus Greening and other tree diseases, Florida still produces 70% of the nation's citrus products as well as 40% of the world's orange juice supply.

The warm climate and ample rainfall combine to produce a long growing season, which allows for strawberry and blueberry production. Just about any agricultural activity you can think of is possible here; it's not unusual to see dairy cattle grazing in green fields in the Central part of the state.

Florida ranks second in the nation for vegetable production

Florida is also number 2 nationally in fresh vegetable production and greenhouse and nursery products. The agriculture industry has become way more than just citrus.


Fred's son is also excited about moving because he is interested in aeronautics and space exploration. Florida is home to over two thousand aerospace and aviation companies. Many are clustered around the NASA installation at Cape Canaveral, home to many exciting launches of astronauts into space, including legendary flights to the moon.

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