The Florida of now is not the Florida of yesterday.
The year 2022 illustrated stark increases in the cost of housing, the number of Republican voters and the number of monthly opioid overdoses. Other measures, like the unemployment rate, dropped.
These numbers tell us the extraordinary places we’ve been, and they hint at where we’re headed. Here are a few areas worth monitoring as we head into 2023.
Floridians across the state saw the costs of renting and owning a home continue to climb in 2022.
The typical home price in Florida increased by about $60,000 over the course of the year, ending at about $400,000 as of October, according to data from Zillow, which does not include the last few months of the year. In 2021, the typical home price increased by about $68,000 over the course of the year.
Rent prices also rose in much of the state; in the Tampa area, average rent prices increased by more than $100 from the start of the year.
Florida’s available housing inventory was at its lowest in the spring and has steadily risen.
Chris Lai, a Tampa Realtor, said, “it’s been a weird year.” He said the housing market was the hottest he’s ever seen in February and into the spring, then began to drop in the summer. But he said people still are chasing the early year’s highs.
“A lot of the inventory that’s out there is overpriced,” Lai said. “If the home is priced right it will go and it will go relatively quick, but you cannot overprice your home.”
Florida has long been known as the nation’s largest swing state. But in the 2022 midterms, Florida Republicans won big up and down the ballot, even as Republicans elsewhere in the country struggled.
One of several reasons for this was a shift in Florida’s voting population. For the first time ever, Republicans outpaced Democrats in voter registration. The number of Republicans grew, while the total number of Democrats shrank.
The gap between the two major parties had been narrowing since 2012.
A Tampa Bay Times analysis also found that turnout among Democrats lagged far behind that of Republicans in the 2022 general election. Statewide, about two-thirds of registered Republicans showed up, but only about half of registered Democrats.
There are a number of reasons political experts think Florida’s tides shifted in favor of Republicans. One among them is that for years, Republicans in Florida have invested in voter infrastructure, while Democrats have relied on outside groups to do outreach.
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The number of voters not affiliated with a party also has been on the rise.
Florida’s unemployment rate, much like the overall unemployment rate for the U.S., spiked in spring 2020 amid the pandemic and has fallen since.
As of the end of 2022, Florida’s unemployment rate of 2.6% is nearly a full point below the U.S. rate of 3.7%, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. Florida’s unemployment rate has been below the national rate since December 2020.
In November 2022, the leisure and hospitality sectors gained the most jobs, followed by education and health services. That same month, the Tampa area led the state in private sector job growth, growing by 4.5%, according to the state.
Florida’s 15-week abortion ban went into effect in the summer of 2022, with no exceptions for rape or incest. There are some exceptions made for the health of the mother and the viability of the fetus.
Excluding the last month of the year, Florida appears to be on track to see fewer abortions in 2022 than the year prior, according to data from the Agency for Health Care Administration.
Laura Goodhue, the executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said she was “struggling to understand why” abortion seemed on track to be lower this year. Of Planned Parenthood’s 15 licensed abortion providers in the state, half saw the number of abortions double around the time Roe v. Wade, a Supreme Court case that ruled that the Constitution protected the right to an abortion, was overturned, Goodhue said.
Many of those people were from out of state, she said.
The number of out-of-state abortions performed in 2022, not including December, was 5,439. The full year prior, that number was 4,873. After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a number of states surrounding Florida heavily restricted abortion to the point that the procedure was made functionally inaccessible.
The number of Floridians on Medicaid has grown since 2020. During the pandemic, the federal government declared a public health emergency because of COVID-19 and paid states to keep Medicaid participants in the health insurance program even if they no longer met eligibility requirements.
Florida’s Medicaid population has grown by 1.7 million since the public health emergency began.
But now the public health emergency seems poised to end, and hundreds of thousands of Floridians could risk losing their coverage. Florida has not yet published a plan on how it will navigate the end of the public health emergency, but a Florida Department of Children and Families spokesperson said the department is prepared.
As a whole, 2022′s hurricane season was not as active as the two years prior, with 14 named storms compared to 21 in 2021 and 30 in 2020 — the latter a record for Atlantic hurricane years.
But 2022′s season stood out for the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian, a near-Category 5 storm that battered Southwest Florida, killing more than a hundred residents.
Ian’s devastation joins just a handful of other storms in Florida to cause tens of billions of dollars in damage, according to Adam Smith, an applied climatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Though costs are not final, Smith said Ian’s damages are in the $100 billion range. It will join 1992′s Hurricane Andrew, 2004′s Hurricane Charley, 2005′s Hurricane Wilma, 2017′s Hurricane Irma, and 2018′s Hurricane Michael as the most costly storms ever to hit Florida.
Though solid population data on Florida only comes with the once-a-decade census, Florida’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research estimates the population as of April 1 of each year.
Florida’s population continues to grow, and some cities in Florida are considered the fastest-growing places in the country, according to the Census Bureau. As of May of this year, Fort Myers was the sixth-fastest growing area in the U.S. It’s unclear how the damage from Hurricane Ian will impact Southwest Florida’s growth as it rebuilds.
Opioid overdose deaths in Florida rose throughout the pandemic, and remained high at the beginning of 2022, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for this year that only goes through July.
In Tampa Bay, overdose deaths surged. Recovery experts said isolation amid the pandemic, unemployment caused by it and increased availability of fentanyl have made for a deadly time. Minority communities were often disproportionately impacted because of existing barriers to treatment.