Florida – Still A Home for Fiscal Immigrants
Like the United States itself, the State of Florida was borne of immigrants. Over the years, millions of people have chosen to make Florida their adopted home. Early Europeans fled to the New World to find not only religious freedom, but also a far less oppressive economic environment. They found a pleasing climate in Florida, well suited for agriculture, and cherished the fact that Florida was a place where what they earned and what they built was also theirs to keep. More recently, Cuban immigrants braved the 90-mile, often-treacherous voyage to Florida in order to escape a homeland where more and more was being taken from them by the government, and less and less was theirs to use for improving their quality of life.
Today the trend in migration marches on, and it is clearly seen in the state’s demographics. In the central and southern regions, you would be hard-pressed to find a single native Floridian! Pick any metropolitan area and ask someone where they’re from, and you will invariably get the same answers. In the southwestern part of the state, including Naples, Fort Myers, and Sarasota, your answer will most likely be Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, or Ohio. On the “Gold Coast” of southeastern Florida, including Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, the answer would overwhelmingly be New York or New Jersey.
This isn’t a simple observation on my part. The southward migration is validated by facts and IRS data. Between the years 1992 and 2010, the Sunshine State as a whole had a positive migration of adjusted gross income (AGI) totaling nearly $96 billion. Much of this influx can be attributed to the fact that Florida is one of only nine states that has no state income tax, has a low corporate tax, and ranks second in the country among the best states to do business. As you might expect, that wealth came predominantly from the very states I mentioned, and they all have the one thing in common: they are all imposing an ever-increasing tax burden on their constituents.
Here are some other facts that I found interesting. The number of billionaires who now call Florida home has more than tripled over the past ten years, and their combined assets have quadrupled. According to Forbes.com, Florida is now the third-highest state in the union when it comes to the number of billionaire residents. Today, the southwestern city of Naples can boast having the second-highest concentration of millionaires in the country.
But I hasten to point out that it is not just the super-rich who are making the move to Florida. A far greater number of “immigrants from the north” are young families. In many cases they are entrepreneurs, small business owners, or simply individuals who want to keep more of the fruits of their labor in an environment that allows them do so.
Times have changed, but in many ways the motives have remained the same. The immigrants flocking to Florida today don’t need to flee their country of birth. They have no need to board large sailing ships, or a rickety raft on stormy seas. All they need is a moving van, a southbound interstate and the same inherent desire as those who preceded them – namely, the desire to hold on to more of their personal gains, their wealth, and their future earning potential. As many in history have found, Florida is a great place to do just that!