For the first time since the end of World War Two, Florida's population is decreasing. Mike Kaine, the general manager of Two Men and a Truck, says, "It's a great place to live. People love the area, it's just if you can make a living." Bubba McCants, with Counts Real Estate Group, says, "You have two Florida's, you have Florida and you have south Florida. It's almost like two separate states"
Both Florida's are seeing the same basic trend. The population is not growing, although Panhandle counties are faring slightly better than the southern portions of the state.
Preliminary numbers indicate Bay County's population is more than 169,000. That's an increase of about 200 people over last year; but it's just about 10% of the county's annual growth since 2000. McCants says, "People moving out, number one, it's job reasons, more pay, or just to be closer to where family is."
Florida's population is contracting after experiencing continuous growth for the past sixty years. Constance Lovell, who is moving to South Carolina from Panama City Beach, says, "The market here's different because many of these condominiums are second homes, there's a lot of retirees moving here."
Unemployment has reached record highs, and the Sunshine State is one of the leaders in foreclosures. The real estate market has played a large role in the population exodus. Lovell: "We still have a home back in South Carolina that I need to go back and divest myself of."
With so many people packing up, it's no surprise that local moving companies are reporting increased profits. Kaine says, "What I've seen is young people all the way up to retired people." But, booming business for movers could mean lean times for those staying behind.