(Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Enjoy that traffic on Interstate 95? Get ready for more of it.
Palm Beach County is one of Florida’s fastest-growing metro areas, according to commercial real estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield. It pegs Palm Beach County’s annual population growth at 2.8 percent, trailing only Fort Myers and Orlando.
Population growth has returned as an economic driver for Palm Beach County, a trend that promises to boost home sales and commercial activity while also reviving the old challenges of traffic congestion and housing affordability.
The most recent official population estimate for Palm Beach County from the U.S. Census Bureau said the county was home to 1.44 million people as of mid-2016. Cushman & Wakefield says the county’s population will hit 1.52 million this year.
Of course, population counts are an inexact science. The University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research says Palm Beach County’s population was just 1.41 million as of mid-2017. UF demographers expect the population to top 1.5 million sometime after 2020.
Supporting the growth story, Palm Beach County offers low unemployment and some of Florida’s highest wages. And large-scale homebuilding is starting up again, with the Westlake and Arden developments in western Palm Beach County poised to add thousands of new homes.
Nearly 200,000 new arrivals will flood into the county over the next five years, Cushman & Wakefield predicted, citing population estimates from private research firm Moodys Analytics.
Palm Beach County’s growth is being driven by a combination of low unemployment and an influx of new arrivals from high-cost areas in the Northeast, said Chris Owen, Cushman & Wakefield’s Florida research manager.
Jeffrey Levine, president-elect of the Realtors of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale and a broker in West Palm Beach, notes similar trends.
“We’re starting to see interest again from a lot of out-of-state buyers," Levine said. "Florida becomes very attractive with the new tax laws.”
Under new tax laws approved in December by President Donald Trump, residents of New York and other high-tax states lose valuable deductions for local property taxes and income taxes.
During the depths of the Great Recession, Palm Beach County lost residents. Florida also saw shrinkage, the first time the state’s population had shrunk since the 1940s.
Miami is the slowest-growing of the nine areas in Cushman & Wakefield’s report: