Jacksonville - the Most Populous City in Florida


Why is a city's population density or number important? How does that influence the city's economy? Why do we even worry about that? Well, those are all important factors to consider when looking at the overall makeup of any region. It dictates job growth or economic downfalls. It determines representation in the US house of representatives and many other factors. Where an area grows or declines in population can lead to changes in political districts, some areas turning blue while others go red, and that is why we care.

Through population growth, the demographics change, it becomes more diverse, and depending on the newcomers' ages, it can help or hurt the economy. That can be a focus for many different reasons, and the City of Jacksonville, Florida, can be a textbook case for a study on the matter.

Population growth has been consistent all around the Sunshine State. Recently, Florida became the 3rd most populated state in the US as people relocated to the coast. Still, are there any reasons besides the weather for people moving to Florida at such a rapid pace?

Let's look at Jacksonville, Florida

We have to state some facts before getting into what inspired all this incredible growth in Jacksonville, Florida. Yes, Jacksonville, also known as Jax, is Florida's most populous city. However, it is also the fifth-largest city in the US based on square footage coverage. When it comes to its population on the national level, Jacksonville is the 12th most populous city in the US.

While Florida has been experiencing growth over the past decade, some areas are growing differently than others. Orlando, Tampa, and Miami are probably the first three large cities in Florida you think about. Well, besides the fact that we already mentioned that Jacksonville is Florida's most populous city, let's understand how that happened.

Population Growth across the State

Florida is an oasis for snowbirds and northerners wanting to enjoy some of those sunny sugary white beaches. Who can blame them? Jacksonville started that trend back in the 1880s but lost it to cities located in Florida's south. Since then, wars, fires, and epidemics have made it hard for the city to match the growing rhythm of other cities.

If we look at the population of Miami and Orlando, we see steady growth throughout their history. However, Jacksonville seems more like Tampa when it comes to population growth. Both cities experienced a growth spurt that more than doubled their population over one decade. For Tampa, this growth happened between the 1950s and 1960s, taking the city from 125 K to 275 K in approximately ten years. Jacksonville had the same thing happening but between the 1960s and 1970s. Still, Jacksonville started this growth spurt at 201 K and ended it at 504 K.

More important to note, however, is the fact that while Jacksonville's growth rate eased down, it never stopped growing. In truth, since then, Jacksonville has experienced a steady growth of approximately 100 K per decade. That means a constant growth rate between 11 and 15% every decade. That's not an unbelievable growth rate as other cities with a much more significant increase rate. Yet, that kind of growth, annually, over decades, ever since the 1960s, did take Jacksonville to where it is today. But, let see how it got here.

What explains this growth?

So, as we established that the city of Jacksonville, as the most sought-after destination in Florida, had a healthy and steady growth rate, let's see what can be blamed for it. From governmental decisions to industries pushing the economy forward, Jacksonville has the recipe for maintaining its position proud and tall in front of most other cities across the US.

The County and City Merge

The first element that we are going to cover is the great merge. Back in 1968, the "Jacksonville Consolidation" took place. During this process, what was the city of Jacksonville at that time, merged with Duval County into one governmental structure. This came to happen because they wanted to limit the duplication of functions between the two demographical areas.

This was also when Jacksonville expanded its borders by incorporating the area of the old county lines. That merge is how Jacksonville became the largest city in Florida based on the geographical area covered. Since then, that area has grown even further, and other cities are unable to catch up. It is also the fifth biggest city in the US, behind only four cities of Alaska, where the land area is much more expansive.

Fourth US Economic Growth

For those considering moving to Jacksonville, FL, understanding the economic layout is necessary. Unlike other cities that are similar in age to Jacksonville, Jax did not cling to industries that have no place in the country's future. Instead of doing that, they focused on diversifying its economy. The healthcare industry alone employs almost 14% of the city's population. The retail sector occupies around 12% of the workforce, followed by the finance (9.7%), hospitality (8.6%), and education (6.8%) industries. Like this, you can at least understand what your quality of life could be from a financial perspective by comparing it to your current situation.

Some of the stats that might interest you about Jacksonville's job market are:

  • 0.8% total employment percentage change;

  • 3.7% unemployment rate (as of May 2021);

  • $57,000 median household income;

  • 5% one-year income growth;

  • $255,000 median home value (in October 2021).

Those thinking of the area's cost of living know that it is between 5 and 7% lower than the national average. The dollar value simply stretches further in the city of Jacksonville than in other communities.


The following information is based on reports made by LinkedIn, the social platform for professionals that want to stay connected. They issued this research to understand how the three largest Floridian metropolitan areas led the country's economy through in-migration. Firstly, in-migration is the process of people relocating from one part of the country to another.

Based on their report, Jacksonville leads the country's top 10 cities for in-migration through data collected from their users between November 2019 and April 2021.

Based on LinkedIn User profile location changes, Jacksonville Metro Area's population increased by 19% between this period. Miami-Fort Lauderdale had a 13.5% gain during the same time frame, while the Tampa Bay Area gained 9.5%.

Between December 2019 and April 2020, Jacksonville lost over 91,000 jobs but recovered around 75% of those jobs by March 2021. At the same time, Orlando only recovered 34%, South Florida managed to get back 55%, and the state got as high as 59%.

The year 2020 was the Great Migration year as remote work became a possibility in many industries. Overall, the city of Jacksonville, FL, reached a population of 930,000, while the metro area is expected to exceed 1,600,000 in 2021. Because of that, people migrated to lower-cost living areas. The whole state benefited from this as people from Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, but the west coast as well moved to Florida.

Real Estate Trends

Jacksonville's real estate market is hot. Caught between military bases, sandy beaches, a business-friendly environment, and population growth it takes the city in the dozen most populous cities in the US. And so it's its real estate market. But unlike in other areas, prices are yet to explode here. Over the past year, the city's real estate market experienced a 23% growth, which is not a tiny percentage. Still, the median home value is $255,000, much lower than Tampa, Orlando, Miami, or the state.

The secret is out, and this can be seen from the growth experienced by the city. Still, while it did experience the most significant housing price growth in the nation, the prices remain more affordable compared to other similar cities. This makes Jacksonville an excellent place for investors to do what they do best. Invest.


But investors aren't what drives the population growth. The population coupled with every facet of the economy we discussed above do. A city's attractivity is only relevant for potential newcomers when considering the quality of life available in any city. Take the booming economy, the real estate opportunities, and the job market, and all we have is a city with an incredibly vast history. It all needs to work together, and that's why real estate agents in Jacksonville FL are ready to show off some of the best neighborhoods of their city.

Jacksonville didn't get to where it is today on luck. On the contrary, the amount of bad luck it had in the past should be a testament to this. Still, it's growing, thriving through its growth and welcoming people from all over the country. Join them and get ready for the quality of life only Jax can provide.

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