Posted: May 03, 2019 by Kelly Murphy-Redd

Is Attracting Retirees An Economic Development Strategy?..... You better believe it.

Florida has the highest percentage of residents who are 65 and older of any state in the United States.

Almost one out of four Floridians will be over the age of 65 by the year 2030.

Almost 900 people per day are moving to Florida.

SmartAsset reports Florida had a net gain of almost 78,000 retirees in 2017. This study calculated retirees over the age of 60 moving to Florida subtracting those moving out.
  • WalletHub rates Florida as the #1 Best State to Retire.
  • rates Florida #1 Best State to Retire
  • Retirement Living rates Florida #5 for Most Tax-Friendly State to Retire.
According to the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs 2017 data, Florida has 1,525,400 veterans. There are 789,717 veterans in Florida 65 years of age and over.

Okaloosa County has over 30,000 people ages 65 and older.

There are over 30,000 veterans in Okaloosa County. Okaloosa has the highest percentage of retired veterans in Florida.

Ok, so this is a big deal right?

What do retirees bring to the community from an economic standpoint?

The National Active Retirement Association reports:
  • A retiree couple is the equivalent of 3.7 manufacturing jobs.
  • Retirees transfer their wealth from other US communities across state and county lines.
  • They generally have higher disposable incomes, better educations and put much less a burden on our streets, infrastructure or schools.
  • They are active volunteers in schools and in civic, cultural and religious organizations.
  • Because they have higher wealth, on average, they pay higher taxes on purchases and property.
A study prepared for the Southern Agricultural Economics Association by Biswaranjan Das and Daniel V. Rainey cites the sectors that benefit from in-migration of retirees include:
  • real estate (residential & commercial)
  • financial (banks, insurance, stocks, financial planners, and accountants)
  • healthcare (professionals & facilities)
  • recreation and entertainment
  • hospitality (lodging & restaurants)
  • retail (durables & non-durables)
  • utilities
  • tourism (visiting & permanent tourists)
The study continues to say “this leads to an increase in property and sales taxes that enables local governments to spend on improving local services. Affluent retirees usually do not strain social services, healthcare services, school systems, the criminal justice system, nor create environmental problems. Overall, communities that have a sizable elderly population are more likely to have a stable economy and are resistant to economic downswings.”

Now interestingly enough, millennials are the largest segment of the U.S. workforce. These are people between the ages of 18 and 35. They will start to retire in 30 years.

Brookings, reported in The Economist, that “Millennials are not only doing financially worse at their age than previous generations, they're also not saving enough for retirement; rarely have pensions available through their employer; and have taken on a huge amount of student debt. The Economist points out that despite these setbacks, a majority of this generation, according to a survey in 2018 by TD Ameritrade, believes that they will be millionaires, and one in five believes it will happen by age 40.”

It seems more education is needed about retirement.

Communities should recognize their assets that attract retirees and what keeps them. Low taxes, cost of living, natural amenities, and warm weather are top priorities for retirees. Quality elder healthcare is important as well. Tourism also attracts this group because many enjoy their visit so much that they decide to move where they vacationed. Usually in their early 40s, the retiring veteran stays because of the items mentioned above, the military friendliness of a community and, for those with school-aged children, quality of schools.

Retirees can be an attraction and a retention strategy for economic developers.