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Census data shows Jacksonville's persistent growth, now 12th largest city in US

Professor of Geography at Jacksonville University Ray Oldakowski is analyzing the Census data. He says Jacksonville has seen persistent growth over 20 years.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Jacksonville is growing and has been over the last 20 years. 

Census numbers show half a million people moved to Duval in the last 20 years. 

Jobs are a driving factor making Jacksonville the 12th largest city in the country. Here are the top 15 by Census population data:

  1. New York City
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Chicago
  4. Houston
  5. Phoenix
  6. Philadelphia
  7. San Antonio
  8. San Diego
  9. Dallas
  10. San Jose
  11. Austin
  12. Jacksonville
  13. Fort Worth
  14. Columbus
  15. Charlotte

Jacksonville University Professor Ray Oldakowski says the city's rate of growth is outpacing the state.

“Obviously when people move to an area the first thing they’re looking for is housing," Oldakowski said. "It’s not hard to drive around the Jacksonville area and see new housing construction, whether it’s homes or apartments. People need places to live.”

He says Duval has to make sure to keep up with the growing population. 

“Eventually cities, counties, state need to be able to respond and provide more transportation options," he said.  “A lot of times people that move are young so they may be bringing young children with them which would put an increase demand for schools."

The City of Jacksonville recently bumped up the gas tax to help pay for hundreds of millions of dollars in transportation updates. Duval County Public schools have started construction on their 1.9 billion dollar plan to renovate and renew public schools.

Oldakowski analyzed the data and found that about 500 people are moving here every week from 2015

Local realtor Shonda Campanaro says she has her eye on E-town and 7 Pines. She says these are new developments with houses in affordable ranges. 

“The cost of living (in Jacksonville) remains lower than average," Campanaro said. "We are ranked among the top cities in Florida for job growth, so that in itself is a driving force to get people here. Plus the beach… I mean we have beach weather all year long. You can’t beat that.”

Campanaro is a relocation specialist helping corporations move their employees to the first coast. She’s seen the growth firsthand.

“It’s crazy right now. Inventory is very low, and the demand is very high. They just can’t keep up," Campanaro said. 

Is the growth good or bad?

“I’ve always considered Jacksonville to be a very pro-growth pro-business type of city so you know the more people that live here, the better quality of life," Oldakowski said. "On the other hand, Florida has experienced periods of growth where it sort of overwhelmed the local capacity to handle it.”

Campanaro says builders need to focus on affordable housing in the 200 to 300,000 range. She says there are not enough homes in that range currently in Jacksonville, and they're needed to keep the growth going.