Categories: governmentnews

Adjective Overreach? Numbers Offer More Nuanced Account of Pensacola’s Population Growth

by Jeremy Morrison

The city of Pensacola is heralding “explosive growth” in population numbers, as well as new development. Citing the city’s growth rate since 2010, city officials issued a press release Aug. 25 claiming the city’s population was approaching “record numbers.”

“I’m proud to say that the numbers are booming,” Hayward said in the release. “Pensacola is now being known as a city that is very fast-growing. We are in explosive-growth mode as a city.”

The city’s population as of the 2010 census was 51,923, a low point. The release cites the Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) at the University of Florida’s preliminary population estimate for 2017, which pegs the city’s numbers at 54,071, making for an increase of 2,148.

The city pointed to development in the downtown area, including new residential units and subdivision plats, and noted the estimate did not account for the growth such development is expected to bring. Other developments, such as the VT MAE project, were also cited.

“It’s exciting to see that Pensacola is becoming what we envisioned when I first ran for office,” Hayward said. “That’s a testament to being a healthy community and doing things right.”

While the city is experiencing a rush of development, and the population numbers have been climbing in recent years, the categorization of “explosive growth” or “record numbers,” is an overstatement of the progress.

The city notes that the estimated population for 2017 is still below 2000’s “slightly higher” count of 56,255 (a difference of 2,184). What the release does not detail are the years preceding 2000; during those decades — through ebbs and flows — the numbers were consistently higher.

In 1970, Pensacola’s population was 59,507. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the population floated in the 57,000s and 58,000s. Then in 2000, the population began to decline until its more recent uptick.

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