ORLANDO, Fla., Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Florida's population is on a pace to shrink by 60,000 this year, the first time that has happened since World War II, demographers say.
More than 500,000 people will flee the state in 2009, they predict, and while experts say Florida will resume growing when the recession eases, its growth will likely not reach the levels it has in the past, The Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel reported Sunday.
That slower growth puts the state in danger of fiscal calamity because it has built its economy and structured its budget around the assumption that throngs of new residents will flock to the state each year, a study by the Pew Center on the States indicated last week.
"What this will do is make a lot of people think about what rapid growth means, both the downside and the upside," William Frey, a demographer with The Brookings Institution in Washington, told the Sentinel.
"These gaudy rates of population growth we've seen of 4 or 5 percent in decades gone by are not coming back," added Sean Snaith, director of the University of Central Florida's Institute for Economic Competitiveness.