Gainesville vs. Tallahassee: Which Area Will Grow Faster? [Infographic]

John Egan

Gainesville vs Tallahassee

The football rivalry between the University of Florida and Florida State University has been described as “bitter, contentious and filled with trash talk.” While there might not be quite the same level of animosity between the schools’ hometowns -- Gainesville (UF) and Tallahassee (FSU) -- a built-in rivalry definitely exists.

How does the Gainesville-vs.-Tallahassee rivalry manifest itself? One way could be the competition between the two metro areas for bragging rights regarding population growth. A LawnStarter review of population projections from the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research finds that Tallahassee comes out on top in this showdown.

LawnStarter’s review of the bureau’s population forecast shows that the Tallahassee area will grow at a faster clip than the Gainesville area from 2015 to 2025 and from 2015 to 2030. From a percentage standpoint, the four-county Tallahassee area is projected to see slightly higher population gains than the two-county Gainesville area during both of those periods.

In calculating projected population growth, we used 2015 population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, along with 2025 and 2030 population projections from UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.


Gainesville, FL, is the home of the University of Florida. Photo: Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce

A Natural Increase

Ed Young, deputy director of the Tallahassee/Leon County Office of Economic Vitality, says population growth in Leon County -- the biggest county in the Tallahassee area -- is being fueled primarily by a natural increase (births minus deaths) rather than by more people moving to the area. About three-fourths of the county’s recent population growth can be attributed to natural increase, with about one-fourth coming from new arrivals, he says.

By contrast, Young says, about 80 percent of Florida’s recent population growth has been driven by an influx of new residents.

Tallahassee FL

Tallahassee, FL, is the home of Florida State University. Photo: Gresham, Smith and Partners

Economic Mix

In terms of the economy, Tallahassee -- the capital of Florida -- continues to rely greatly on government, education and healthcare for jobs. The largest employers in Leon County are state government, Florida State University, the Leon County school system, the Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare system and Tallahassee city government.

“Economic growth ... has been led in recent years by the bounceback in construction, manufacturing, food services, and professional and business services, as well as educational services,” Young says.

In the infographic below, we offer a side-by-side look at the growth trajectories for the Gainesville and Tallahassee areas.

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Top image: One Rivalry, Two Schools