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Miami Leads the U.S. in International Immigration Growth

by | May 01, 2017
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Miami was the top U.S. city for growth from international immigration last year, a sign of the global demand to live, work and play in sunny South Florida.


Miami’s population increased 1.1 percent from international immigration, the highest of any U.S. metro area, from 2015 to 2016, according to U.S. Census numbers from March 2017. Many of the immigrants are highly-educated, according to a 2017 study by Florida International University and the Creative Class Group. Miami ranked No. 1 in the nation for the percentage of foreign-born in its highly educated ranks (some college through Ph.D. holders).

The foreign born comprise nearly four out of 10 of the South Florida professional workers in business, the sciences, tech, education, media and the arts.

Cultural diversity is critical for a strong economy. Businesses in a multicultural, multilingual regions like South Florida can draw employees from different backgrounds and experiences and those contrasting perspectives create innovative ideas and industries.

This innovation is critical for cities as they aim to stay competitive in the global marketplace. With its long history of welcoming all cultures, Miami is positioned to continue its growth. While other U.S. cities have stopped adding residents, Miami is growing its population and adding jobs – two factors that will boost the local real estate market.

Miami, which is America’s most diverse city with 51 percent of its residents foreign born, is seeing the positive impact from its cultural diversity. The region’s unique diversity has long attracted home buyers from around the world, but it’s also spurring a South Florida population boom and launching major startup businesses and commercial development.

Companies want to relocate to Miami to reach Latin America or to provide a U.S. foothold for Latin American Tech entrepreneurs. Miami startups brought in $49.4 million in VC funding in 2014, while existing VC-backed companies including health care IT provider CareCloud and mobile app developer KidoZen saw continued success.

Thanks to its increase in international residents, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale region eclipsed Los Angeles in 2012 as the major metropolitan area with the largest share – 45 percent – of immigrant business owners, according to a report by the Fiscal Policy Institute, a research group.

Local Economy Adding Jobs
Once reliant on just tourism and real estate, Miami has diversified its economy to become one of the world’s top business hubs. Global entrepreneurs and companies are routinely relocating here because of our strong startup network, reputation for aggressive development, and multilingual population.

The region’s business growth is one reason why the personal finance website Wallet Hub recently ranked Miami as the second-fastest growing economy among large U.S. cities.

Austin, Texas (population: 912,791) was the only large-sized U.S. city to perform better than Miami.  Wallet Hub studied 515 cities, 64 with a population greater than 300,000, and analyzed a host of economic statistics for growth in jobs, population, median household income, new businesses, home values, and other factors from 2010 to 2014.

The local population is also getting more educated, a key factor in a growing economy. The share of Miami-Dade residents with graduate degrees increased 7.5 percent from 2013 to 2014. The population has seen a 12 to 17 percent growth in associate, bachelor and graduate degrees.

Miami’s Diversity Driving Population Growth
South Florida is now the nation’s eighth largest metropolitan area, and Miami’s ability to attract international residents is a large reason why. Miami-Dade/Broward/Palm Beach metro area surpassed six million residents for the first time earlier this year.

Of the 500,000 new residents who moved to the Miami, Broward, Palm Beach metro area over the last five years, about 65 percent (335,000) came from other countries, according to new U.S. Census data. South Florida’s tax environment (no state income tax in Florida), growing tech industry and infrastructure improvements are leading more Americans to relocate to Miami.

The world is drawn to Miami because Miami speaks their language. Fifty-six different languages are spoken among the student population at Miami-Dade County Public Schools. When you analyze the tri-county South Florida region, 128 languages are spoken in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, according to a 2015 U.S. Census Bureau report.

Miami Welcomes All Cultures
Unlike any other part of the world, Miami welcomes all nationalities and languages. Miami is home to Cubans, Venezuelans, Brazilians, Argentines, Russians, French, Nicaraguans, Chinese and many other foreign-born natives.

In Florida, Miami and Fort Lauderdale account for 50 percent of foreign sales, according to the 2015 Profile of International Home Buyers in Florida. Foreign real estate buyers accounted for 36 percent or $6.1 billion of total sales volume in South Florida, according to the 2015 Profile of International Home Buyers in Miami Association of Realtors Business Areas.

Art, Culture, Transit Attracting Residents
Miami’s cultural and art institutions are also influencing the region’s population growth. Miami Beach’s Art Basel show draws the world’s top collectors, and the Wynwood neighborhood has gained national and global attention for its trendy local art.

The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and the waterfront Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) opened recently in Downtown Miami. The $305 million Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science adjacent to PAMM will open later this year.

Greater Downtown Miami has seen a 99.6-percent population increase since 2000, growing from 40,466 to 80,750 residents. Brickell — which is the core of Miami’s banking, investment and financial centers — has seen the largest increase in downtown, growing from 12,904 residents in 2000 to 32,489, according to the Miami Downtown Development Authority.

Downtown’s public transit, cultural institutions and growing population are encouraging many of these developments. Miami’s Metrorail Orange Line now takes travelers from the airport to downtown. Also, All Aboard Florida is building a new rail service, which will run 30-plus trains a day to Orlando with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach by 2017.

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