It's well known that by 2015, Florida could surpass New York as the nation's third most populous state. What's drawn less attention is that much of Florida's population growth through 2060 is expected to take place within two broad corridors: the Tampa Bay area through Orlando to the Atlantic coast and the Tampa Bay area to Jacksonville.
Hillsborough County alone could gain 600,000 people to reach a population of about 1.8 million -- and add 400,000 jobs to reach 1 million by 2040, mid-level projections in a University of Florida study indicate.
That kind of growth clearly would affect transportation, the environment and the types of new jobs -- with the service and health industries growing even more.
Growth also might increase housing values, create crowding similar to what's affected the ambiance of South Florida in recent decades and shift cultural attitudes; for example, more people may want to live closer to where they work.
"The new population growth will make Tampa younger, more urban," said Tampa City Councilman Mike Suarez, who sits on local transit boards.
"Livability, the economy, transit -- these and other factors will be reflections of the increasing vibrancy of the Tampa area," Suarez said.
Two sources contributed to Florida's population growth between 2010 and 2012: Net migration accounted for 69.7 percent, and births over deaths accounted for 30.3 percent.
While the nationwide recession slowed Florida's population growth in recent years, short-term signals that demographers check -- from surveys of utility billings to the reports that moving companies file -- show Florida's population has begun to grow steadily again, though not at previous rapid rates. That's in line with nationwide census reports.
"Florida's population growth in 2013 is a little more than last year," said Scott Cody, research demographer for the University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and Business Research. "But I don't like to rely on one year's growth."
Florida's population on April 1, 2012, was estimated to be 19,074,434, a 1.5 percent gain since 2010, the state's Office of Economic and Demographic Research said in a report to the Florida Legislature earlier this year.
That compared with 32.7 percent growth in the decade of the 1980s; 23.5 percent in the 1990s; and 17.6 percent in the 2000s.
But even at an annual growth rate of less than 2 percent, Florida's population is expected to reach 19,750,577 by 2015 and 25,583,153 by 2040, a July report by the Florida Demographic Estimating Conference showed.
By comparison, New York state's population in 2015 is expected to reach 19,546,904, and 19,623,506 in 2040, a Cornell University report for the state said.
Demographers warn against comparing reports from different agencies because researchers can use different assumptions and methodology.
However, the findings from multiple sources for Florida's population outlook appear to be in general agreement. That includes the rationale for why the Tampa Bay region is likely to outpace other areas of the state in population growth.
Florida's seven most populous counties -- Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, Orange, Pinellas and Duval -- account for more than 50 percent of the state's population.
"The three Southeast Florida counties and Pinellas County are very nearly out of vacant, developable land," a consultant's draft report in August for the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization said.
"The impact is that Hillsborough and Orange counties, as well as other Tampa Bay, Southwest and Central Florida counties such as Lee, Polk and Pasco, will absorb a proportionately greater share of Florida's growth than was the case prior to 2000."
Hillsborough County's population ranked fourth statewide in April 2012 with 1,256,118 people, while Pinellas County ranked sixth with 920,381.
But Hillsborough ranked third behind Miami-Dade and Orange counties in adding the most population between 2010 and 2012, with a gain of 26,892 residents.