Puerto Ricans in Florida

Puerto Ricans in Florida
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  62 Puerto Ricans in Florida PATRICIA SILVER  Florida is a transient state and a state of transience. The character and composition of Florida changed profoundly after  1950, the result of two powerful forces: migration and immigration. Mormino (2005: 14) Although it seems that most Puerto Ricans have family members living in Florida, there has been surprisingly little written about this important new center of Puerto Rican settlement. 1  This chapter offers a sketch of Puerto Rican settlement in Florida using demographic, historic, and ethnographic data.In 2010, Hispanics were 22 percent of the total population of Florida. The Puerto Rican population, at about 20 percent of all Hispanics, now rivals the Cuban population, at about 28 percent of all Hispanics (U.S. Census Bureau 2010). By 2020, the number of Puerto Ricans is projected to exceed the number of Cubans in Florida. FIGURE 1. Florida Counties and Metro Areas.  63 Figure 1 identifies Florida counties by name and locates the three metro areas of largest Puerto Rican settlement in the state. 2  Although Puerto Rican communities in the Tampa and Miami areas have longer histories than other areas, Puerto Ricans in the Orlando area, especially in Orange and Osceola counties, predominate over other Hispanic groups. Indeed, Orange County, where Orlando is located, is the leading destination for Puerto Ricans of all the counties in the United States (see Vargas-Ramos 2014).As a prelude to considering the data for Puerto Ricans in Florida, it is important to note the different regions of this very large state. Floridians refer to North Florida, South Florida, and Central Florida; Central Florida is often divided further into East Central (where Orlando is located) and West Central (where Tampa is located). Jacksonville, not shown in Figure 1, is in North Florida (Duval County). Miami is in South Florida. There is common joking reference that the further north one goes in Florida, the deeper in the South one is. South Florida is not only the base of Cuban influence and power in Florida, but it is also the area of the state with the largest Hispanic population overall. Bordering Georgia and Alabama, North Florida is often called “Old Florida,” suggesting that this part of the state has been less touched by the demographic and cultural changes experienced since the 1960s. Central Florida, where Puerto Ricans are most concentrated, sits geographically and metaphorically between “Old Florida” in the North and the strong Cuban and Hispanic presence in South Florida. Central Florida has seen a rapid shift in its economic activity in recent decades, as acres of orange groves and the open spaces needed for cattle ranches have been transformed into sites for theme parks, hotels, housing developments, and retail outlet centers. This economic shift has been accompanied by a dramatic demographic shift, and the growth of the Puerto Rican population in Central Florida has been an important part of this transition. Florida Overview Figure 2 represents Puerto Rican population by county in Florida. The darker colors indicate the counties with the largest Puerto Rican populations, Broward, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Orange, and Osceola. Table 1 gives the number of Puerto Ricans and their percent of total population for each of the five Florida counties with the largest Puerto Rican populations. Orange County, where Orlando is located, has by far the largest Puerto Rican population, at just under 150,000. Next is Miami-Dade County at about 92,000, followed by Hillsborough County, where Tampa is PUERTO RICANS AT THE DAWN OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM  64 located, at just over 91,000. Broward County in South Florida at about 76,000 and Osceola County in Central Florida at about 73,000 are fourth and fifth, respectively, in terms of numbers.In terms of percentages of total population, Orange and Osceola counties are the largest centers of Puerto Rican settlement in the state. Puerto Ricans in Osceola County, although smaller in number than other counties, make up 27 percent of the total population. In Orange County, they make up 13 percent of the total population. Both counties have a significantly greater concentration of Puerto Ricans than Hillsborough (7%) and the two South Florida counties, Broward and Miami-Dade, where Puerto Ricans make up 4 percent of the population of each. These demographic changes have made an impact on Hispanic influence within the state as the traditional Cuban dominance in South Florida is being challenged by the growth of the Puerto Rican community in Central Florida. FIGURE 2. Puerto Rican Population in Florida Counties, 2010 Source : U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census SF1, Table PLT11. PUERTO RICANS IN FLORIDA  65 Table 2 gives the numbers and percent of total population for the top five metro areas where Puerto Ricans have settled in Florida. Although Tampa has the longest history of Puerto Rican migration, the 2010 Puerto Rican population in the Tampa metro area of about 140,000 was significantly smaller than in the metro areas of Miami at about 208,000 and Orlando at about 270,000. The difference between the Miami and Orlando communities, however, is evident in the data on percentage of total population. In the Orlando metro area, this percentage (13%) is more than three times that of the Miami metro area (4%). Located just between Orlando and Tampa is Lakeland, which is home to about 35,000 Puerto Ricans. The area remains largely rural, but as both Tampa and Orlando continue to grow, it sits at the center of what is sometimes called “Orlampa,” a part of the state that is predicted to become a mega-region (Griffith 2006). The newest of the top metro areas of Puerto Rican population is Jacksonville, which is home to an emerging Puerto Rican community in North Florida. While still the smallest in both number and percentage of population, TABLE 1. Florida Counties with Highest Puerto Rican Population, 2010 RankStatePercentOrange County149,45713Miami-Dade County92,3584Hillsborough County91,4767Broward County75,8404Osceola County72,98627 Source : U.S. Census Bureau, Census of the Population and Housing, 2010. PUERTO RICANS AT THE DAWN OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM TABLE 2. Puerto Rican Population in Florida Metro Areas, 2010 RankPuerto Rican% of TotalOrlando-Kissimmee-Sanford269,78113Miami-FortLauderdale-Pompano Beach207,7274Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater143,8865Lakeland-Winter Haven34,8256Jacksonville30,5322 Source : U.S. Census Bureau, Census of the Population and Housing, 2010.  66 this is an area where the Puerto Rican population is expected to grow. Figure 3 illustrates the counties surrounding Orlando. The counties of Central Florida emerged as key to the isolation and segregation trends that Carlos Vargas-Ramos (2014) has analyzed for Puerto Ricans nationally. Regarding the increasing isolation of Puerto Ricans in Osceola and Orange counties, among others, Vargas-Ramos concludes, “Puerto Ricans gravitate towards other Puerto Ricans as they disperse throughout the United States.” Ethnographic data supports this conclusion as Puerto Ricans have moved increasingly to the eastern part of Orlando and Orange County, and to two developments south of Orlando (Meadow Woods and Buenaventura Lakes), which together straddle the Orange/Osceola county line. Political mobilizing for greater Puerto Rican and Hispanic representation has emerged from these areas to the east and south.Two other counties in Vargas-Ramos’ analysis merit attention here. Lake and Polk 3  counties are noted as being among the counties in the United States experiencing the most growth in Puerto Rican population. These two counties, adjacent to the western ends of Orange and Osceola, respectively, are also among the areas experiencing a significant increase in the isolation FIGURE 3. Central Florida Counties TABLE 3. Puerto Rican Education, Income, and Unemployment in Florida and the U.S. (percent)High school or higher Bachelor's or higher Graduate or professional Median household income (USD)Families below poverty UnemploymentFlorida80185$41,198 1611United States73165$38,426 2213 Source : U.S. Census Bureau, ACS, 5-year estimates, 2010. PUERTO RICANS IN FLORIDA
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