GROWTH MANAGEMENT: BEYOND LAND AND
WATER USE ISSUES
By Mr. Brad Robbins
Traditionally, land and water use issues have dominated
growth management discussions. Florida's growth rate, however,
dictates a broader approach to growth management than this.
It is hard to imagine any aspect of our society that will
not be affected by Florida's unprecedented growth rate. Criminal
justice and transportation are population growth related issues
that, in the past two years, have received lawmakers' attention.
In both cases, the legislature raised taxes in order to satisfy
the public's demand for improvement in these areas.
In addition to land and water use, growth management
issues include, but are not limited to, infrastructure, housing,
pollution, transportation, and social concerns.
Three other growth related subjects will receive further
examination in this paper. They are the elderly, the economy,
and political trends. These subjects were selected to illustrate
the breadth of Florida's growth management considerations. It is
important to note, however, that all growth management issues are
interrelated. A single quick fix is unlikely to solve the longer
term problems of a 49.7 percent population increase between 1980
and the year 2000.
This report utilizes population projections made by the
Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) of the University
of Florida. These projections, the official state estimates,
tend to be lower than United States Bureau of the Census figures.
BEBR's projections also tend to be somewhat higher than Revenue
Estimating Conference projections.
Official Florida population estimates project that
Florida's population will increase 49.7 percent between 1980 and
the year 2000. This represents a population increase of
5,073,376. If these population growth projections prove to be
accurate, Florida can expect over 600 people to move to the state
every day through the turn of the century.
As astounding as these projections are, the rate at which
the state is growing older is even greater.
Florida as the Nation's Role Model
Florida's median age has increased 7.4 percent to 34.7
since 1970. During the same period, the median age for the
nation as a whole increased 6.7 percent to 30.0.
Right now, 17.3 percent of Florida's population is over
sixty-five years old compared to an 11.3 percent figure for the
nation as a whole. In the year 2000, the state's population mix
will reflect 18.7 percent of its residents over the age of sixty-
five while the nation's population mix of over sixty-five will
increase to 13.8 percent. Thus, while the nation probably will
not attain the same elderly population mix as Florida in the
foreseeable future, its proportion of older citizens will
continue to increase. Accordingly, many states will look to
Florida as an example of how to cope with a population that is
Is Florida's Elderly Population an Economic Benefit?
Retirees moving to Florida, at least in the short run,
benefit the state's economy by purchasing residences, shifting
their savings to Florida financial institutions, and paying
taxes. The fixed income of many retirees also serves as a very
stable tax source for the state.
The longer term benefits of retired citizens on Florida's
economy are, however, unclear. Eventually, many retirees become
recipients of services provided by the state's social programs.
A 1974 Federal study found that only three men in 1000 aged 55-64
are in nursing homes at a given time. But among the 65-74 age
group, the ratio shoots to eleven per 1000. At 74-84, it leaps
to forty per 1000,, and at eighty-five and older it is 180 per
1000. Among elderly women, who normally live longer and,
therefore, use long-term nursing facilities more heavily, the
ratio increase is even steeper.
Significantly, within the broad category defined as
elderly, the fastest growing age sector is eighty-five years and
above, which is projected to grow by 178.3 percent to 326,600
people by the year 2000. This indicates that many residents who
do not require institutionalized care now, may very well need it
in the near future.
Health Care's Rising Importance
Health care requirements are another major consideration
when evaluating the elderly's impact on Florida's economy. In
the past, institutionalization was the primary method of coping
with senior citizens who were not entirely self-sufficient.
Recently, however, there has been a shift towards home health
care. The goal of this movement is to prevent or delay the
institutionalization of the elderly who are still able to live at
home but need some assistance to do so. Florida has participated
in this movement through Community Care for the Elderly.
The home health care philosophy has at least two clear
1. Home health care is an acknowledgment of respect for
an individual's desire to live at home if he chooses to do
2. Home health care is less expensive than nursing
homes. Community Care for the Elderly is estimated to
have cost $1,679 less per client than institutional costs
during the most recent fiscal year, for a total cost
avoidance of $13.5 million.
Community Care for the Elderly has seen its costs swell
from $750,000 in 1978 to the current $15 million. It is now able
to provide services to about 15,000 of some 100,000 people who
need it. In order to maintain this minimum level of service, the
state needs to prepare to spend larger amounts of money to
shoulder the burden of the elderly's medical expenses.
The increased demand for assistance is the result of
several trends; reduced federal support for Medicaid (which is
expected to be cut even further), increased health care costs,
inflation eroded purchasing power of retirees' pension benefits
and retirement savings, and a growing number of senior citizens
who need assistance. There is every reason to believe that these
factors will continue to force Florida to shoulder an increasing
percentage of the elderly's health care costs.
Based on BEBR population projections, by the year 2000,
Florida's economy will need to generate 1,862,997 jobs in order
to employ the same proportion of the population as is employed
today. Most likely, the job market will need to expand even
greater than 1.8 million jobs. The computation does not take
into account a growing percentage of women and elderly who will
seek to enter the work force. This job growth figure also
reflects the current 8.8 percent unemployment rate, which is high
by historical standards. In order to reduce this rate, job
opportunities will have to expand faster than 1.7 percent
annually for the next 20 years.
Manufacturing Jobs Targeted
In order to minimize the impact of the nation's business
cycle on Florida's economy, the state has moved to develop its
manufacturing sector. From 1970 to 1980, Florida added 134,700
manufacturing jobs. Employment in Florida's manufacturing sector
grew by 13,470 jobs, or 3.6 percent annually. During the same
period the annual manufacturing employment growth rate was .5
The Department of Commerce has targeted several high
technology areas for its relocation efforts. These areas
include: defense contractors, aviation, pharmaceuticals,
instrumentation, and communication. Due to Florida's large
agricultural production, food processing is also a targeted
Between 1975 and 1982, the state added 58,125 high
technology manufacturing jobs. This 16.6 percent annual rate
growth represents an average annual increase of 8,303 high tech
Film Industry to Increase Economic Presence
The Motion Picture and Television Bureau works to
encourage the development of the motion picture industry,
including television commercial and sponsored film industry,
foreign film and tape production, and the music industry.
Florida currently ranks third among states with over $142 million
spent by the industry in Florida in 1982. This industry should
continue to strengthen its impact on Florida's economy.
International Trade to Gain in Importance
Another area of Department of Commerce concentration has
been international trade. International trade offers Florida the
means to mitigate adverse effects of the national business cycle.
International trade also serves as a means to diversify an
economy susceptible to downturns in the tourism, construction and
agriculture industries. Total trade grew from $2 billion in 1971
to over $18 billion in 1981, an 800 percent increase.
Several factors contribute to Florida's current and future
One factor is Florida's proximity to the
expanding markets in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Domestic and foreign firms seeking access to Latin
America and Caribbean markets will continue to base
their operations in the state.
The second factor in Florida's international
trade success is Florida's diversified financial
network. As of September, 1983, forty-four Edge Act
banks were open and operating in Florida. There were
also forty-six State or Federal licensed foreign
agency banks either operating, approved but unopened,
or seeking application approval.
Another reason Florida has a bright future in
international trade is its refugee population. Many
of the early Cuban refugees (1959-1966) were
experienced business persons who were forced to leave
commercial interests behind. These refugees have
become instrumental to trading in Latin American
markets. Spain has recently launched an aggressive
trade program with Florida, citing the state's large
Spanish speaking population as a prime reason for its
Tourism will continue to be a significant factor in
Florida's economic future. 35.9 million people visited Florida
in 1980. This figure is expected to rise thirty-three percent,
to 48 million in 1990.
Traditional Industries Shifting
The construction industry was particularly hard hit by the
recession Florida experienced in the 1970s. Higher financing
costs will have a dampening effect on the single-family housing
market. Multi-family housing, both ownership and rental, will
combine with manufactured housing to accommodate a growing
percentage of Florida's new residents.
An increase in manufacturing and service employment will
combine with a continuing loss of agricultural land to hasten the
diminution of agriculture as a central element in Florida's
A New Source of Job Growth
An emerging concept that will receive greater attention in
the future is state involvement in entrepreneurial development.
This trend capitalizes on the huge increase in new jobs created
by the start up and expansion of small firms, particularly but
not limited to the high technology field. By assisting the start
up of businesses, the state hopes to cultivate a rich source of
jobs and tax revenue. The state will likely increase its efforts
in this area.
Urban Issues Will Receive Greater Priority
Most of the population growth in the 1970s occurred in
Florida's urban areas, primarily along the coast and especially
in the southernmost portion of the state. Thus when the
legislature reapportioned itself in 1982, the urban areas gained
representation at the expense of rural portions of the state.
This trend is likely to continue as 85.5 percent of the next
decade's growth will be concentrated in the state's urban areas.
Single-Member Districts Will Enhance Minority Representation
The trend toward increased minority representation was
evident in the 1983 legislature. While there are still no
hispanic senators, the number of black senators increased from
none in the 1981-82 sessions to two in the 1983-84 sessions. In
the House, the number of blacks increased from five to ten, and
the number of hispanics increased from one to three.
The elderly are an especially potent political contingent,
yet their representation in the state legislature does not
reflect the large number of elderly citizens in the state. Even
though people over sixty-five years of age constitute 17.3
percent of Florida's population, currently only 7.5 percent of
the legislators are over sixty years of age. This fact is
difficult to understand considering the high percentage of
elderly who vote. Seventy-five percent of the elderly are
registered to vote and sixty-one percent voted in the 1976
election, versus sixty-one percent registration and forty-seven
percent voting by Floridians as a whole.
As is the case with the elderly, the demographics indicate
that women are underrepresented in the Florida Legislature.
While women comprise fifty-two percent of Florida's population,
they constitute only 17.5 percent of the Florida Legislature.
There are several considerations to Florida's growth
management issue. A top priority is to develop land use policies
that protect Florida's environment. This question is continuing
to receive its share of legislative attention.
A second area of concern is the status of the state's
economic development program. Florida has made significant
advances towards diversifying its economic base. Through
international trade and manufacturing, the state has maintained a
lower than national average unemployment rate through the current
In the past, a key to Florida's success in attracting
manufacturing firms has been the low tax burden on citizens and
corporations (no personal income tax and relatively low corporate
taxes). Recently, Florida's legislators have altered Florida's
attractiveness to industry. This year the state legislature
raised its gasoline, corporate, and alcoholic beverage taxes by
$317 million. The imposition of these taxes, particularly the
unitary tax, may have altered the state's image in the eyes of
the national and international business community. Further
increases in taxes, which seem inevitable to support continued
growth, may result in fewer relocations to Florida.
If Florida's population were projected to remain stable,
or even increase moderately over the next 20 years, this change
in attitude towards economic development probably would not
portend any major difficulties for the state. Florida's
population, however, is projected to increase rapidly.
It is not at all clear that the state's employment
opportunities will expand as fast as the demand for jobs. There
will be competition among job seekers due to several factors. In
addition to people migrating to the state, there will be an
increase in the percentage of residents entering the labor force.
Many elderly citizens will discover that their incomes are
insufficient and will seek employment. Florida can also expect
an increase in the percentage of women who will be entering the
The possibility of a growing percentage of unemployed
Floridians looms as a very real concern. This possibility is
especially important in light of current moves to reduce the
state's budget. Large budget cuts could minimize the state's
ability to assist those people without jobs.
The bottom line in Florida's growth management discussion
must be the cost of rapid population growth. Florida is simply
not prepared to painlessly absorb over 200,000 people into the
state every year. This is because the people who move to Florida
probably do not pay taxes commensurate with the cost of services
they demand from state and local government. One solution would
be to utilize the tax structure to collect revenues equivalent to
the cost of relocation. Options include impact taxes, personal
income taxes, and homestead tax exemption removal. The objective
would be to force population growth to pay its way while at the
same time revitalizing Florida's attractiveness to economic
In the face of Proposition 1, Florida's growth management
dilemma assumes huge proportions. Reduced revenues could combine
with growing demands from population increases to paralyze the
state's urban areas, effectively creating a no growth stance in