provided to The Santiva Chronicle
The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company’s four-part 2023 Speaker Series concluded with an in-depth examination of data predicting Southwest Florida’s future population and job growth.
The session, titled “The Past, Present and Future of Southwest Florida,” explored two decades of population data. From 2000 to 2010, the five-county region grew 30%. From 2010 to 2020, the region’s growth was 20%.
“In economics, a lot is based on historical data – where things are now and where they are going,” said featured speaker Aysegul Timur, then vice president and vice provost for strategy and program innovation at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU).
The region’s three largest age groups are 65 to 74 years old, 55 to 64 years old and 75 to 84 years old, respectively, across Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties.
“It’s important to recognize that our population is aging, so we can start preparing for that now,” said Timur, who recently was selected to serve as FGCU’s next president. “Right now, the workforce we will need to support our population is less than where it needs to be.”
FGCU, along with other local universities, colleges, technical centers and high schools, are implementing academic and training programs to prepare graduates for the jobs of tomorrow. Given the region’s aging population, that means more jobs in health care, as well as construction jobs to build senior communities and medical facilities. Additional retirees and seniors moving here, along with the aging of the region’s current population, also means more jobs in hospitality, including restaurants, retail and entertainment.
Overall, the proportion of adults ages 65 and above is predicted to continue growing:
When considering births minus deaths, Timur said Southwest Florida had a net decline of 8,826 people from 2020 to 2021. However, migration to the region – people moving here vs. people moving away – amounted to a one-year gain of 55,806 people. By 2050, the five-county region will be home to an estimated 2.2 million people.
In addition to Timur’s April 4 presentation on demographics, The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company’s Speaker Series featured discussions about estate planning, advocating for caregivers and the importance of establishing a will. The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company will announce plans for its 2024 Speaker Series in the fall.