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Updated: 01/30/2015 06:46:02PM

Florida No. 3 — almost

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The threat of an oil spill hasn't stopped people from going to Englewood Beach to take advantage of our recent spell of very warm weather. The spill is unpredictable, but Coast Guard officials recently briefed Charlotte County officials and told them that there is only a 10 percent chance that it will affect local beaches.

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TALLAHASSEE — Florida will have to wait another year, but is narrowing in on New York’s spot as the third most populous state in the nation.

According to estimates released by U.S. Census Bureau on Monday, Florida trails New York by fewer than 100,000 residents, cutting the Empire State’s edge by more than half since last year.

It’s a matter of when, not if, the Sunshine State will slide into the top-three tier behind California and Texas.

“Based on Census Bureau estimates, Florida will probably pass New York within the next year,” said Stan Smith, Program Director of the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

Florida is now home to an estimated 19,552,860 residents, up more than 230,000 from last year and 750,000 more than in the 2010 census count, according to Monday’s figures. The numbers are estimated as of July 1 and do not reflect growth at the county or municipal level.

Gov. Rick Scott credited the population increase on his economic policies and efforts to attract new businesses to the state, trailing New York by just 98,267 residents.

“Florida is on a roll,” Scott said in a statement on Monday. “Cutting taxes and reducing red tape on businesses is a great catalyst for economic opportunity and job creation.”

Many experts consider Florida’s climate and the lack of a state personal income tax the peak attractions for migrants of all ages.

With an estimated 19,651,127 residents, New York hasn’t been able to keep up with Florida’s pace of growth. New York gained about 75,000 residents in the past year, less than a third of Florida’s increase. And while New York City continues to attract newcomers, regions of upstate New York have seen stagnant and declining population numbers.

Florida’s population boost brings with it the potential for a larger tax base but also comes with an increased demand for services, such as roads and schools, and resources including water and land.

One benefit of Florida’s current pace of growth could be additional representation in Congress, Smith said.

“The ranking itself doesn’t mean much, other than the likely shift in congressional seats following the 2020 census,” he said.

Due to population changes reflected by the 2010 census, Florida picked up two seats while New York lost two.

Monday’s estimate put the U.S. population at 316.1 million as of July 1, with states in the South and West growing faster than the rest of the country.

West Virginia and Maine were the only states to have projected declines in population from 2012 to 2013, while Maine and Rhode Island are the only states currently home to fewer people than when the 2010 census was taken.

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