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New census data: St. Johns County is growing fastest in Florida

St. Johns is one of the fastest-growing counties in the U.S.
St. Johns the fastest-growing county in Florida.

St. Johns County is growing faster than any other county in Florida, with more than 15,000 new residents in a year, according to new census data.

The county grew 5.62% from July 2020 to July 2021, reaching 292,466 residents, estimates released Thursday show.

Nassau County grew seventh-fastest in the state at 3.51%, for a population of 94,189, the data shows.

Duval County grew only 0.36%, to 999,935 residents. That was far slower than Florida as a whole, which showed just under 1% growth.

Realtors say many newcomers to Northeast Florida moved to escape New England or South Florida, both more pricey than Greater Jacksonville. The COVID-19 pandemic also may have slowed the influx of residents in more urban areas at a time when many people fled for suburbs.

Broward and Miami-Dade counties lost population, according to the census estimates. So did Orange and Pinellas counties, home to Orlando and St. Petersburg.

Meanwhile, the rapid growth in St. Johns County has stressed roads, schools, parks and libraries. Voters in November will consider whether to raise the sales tax to 7.5% from 6.5% to pay for infrastructure improvements.

In other Northeast Florida counties:

  • Clay County grew 1.63%, to 222,361.
  • Baker County, 1.43% growth, to 28,715.
  • Putnam County, 1.12% growth, to 74,167.

Statewide, the state's population increased by more than 211,000 people from July 2020 to July 2021, the census data shows. Only Texas added more residents than Florida in that period.

Randy comes to Jacksonville from the South Florida Sun Sentinel, where, as metro editor, he led investigative coverage of the Parkland school shooting that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for public service. He has spent more than 40 years in reporting and editing positions in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida. You can reach Randy at or on Twitter, @rroguski.