Census 2020: Watch the Gardens grow

Led by Palm Beach Gardens, north county cities grew 15% over 10 years; Hispanic population rises throughout Palm Beach County.

2020 U.S. Census

Palm Beach Gardens grew at a 22 percent clip over the past 10 years, the second-fastest rate of any city in Palm Beach County, census 2020 figures show.

Jupiter remains the most populous city in north county, at 61,047, but Palm Beach Gardens gained on it, drawing to within 2,000 at 59,182. 

Over the past 20 years, the Gardens’ growth rate of 68.8 percent is third in the county trailing just Palm Springs and Royal Palm Beach, census records show. Jupiter grew seventh-fastest over that period at 55 percent.

But Jupiter’s growth slowed significantly over the past 10 years, dropping to a 10.7 percent pace. The central-county village of Palm Springs grew at 42 percent, the fastest pace of any city since 2010, but, at 26,890, has far fewer residents than Palm Beach Gardens.

Overall, north county’s nine cities grew by 15 percent since 2010 and 42 percent since 2000.

Among all of the county’s 39 cities, Jupiter is sixth-most populous, Gardens is seventh and Riviera Beach is 11th. West Palm Beach remains the most populous city, growing by 17.5 percent to 117,415.

Palm Beach County, the state’s third-most populous county just ahead of Hillsborough and behind Miami-Dade and Broward, grew by 13 percent to 1.49 million residents, the figures from the decennial nationwide headcount reveal.

Florida, the nation’s third-largest state, grew by 14.5 percent to 21.5 million residents while the nation as a whole grew by 7.3 percent to 331 million residents.

The count shows where people lived on April 1, 2020, just after the COVID lockdowns began, forcing many towns to reach out to residents to urge them to complete their census forms online. 

The figures, released Aug. 12 and updated Sept. 16 to make them easier to download, came out four months later than usual because of delays caused by the pandemic. 

Offering the first details by city that include race and ethnicity from the 2020 census, the “decennial redistricting” data will be used for drawing up congressional and state legislative districts. 

Even with the Sept. 16 update, the figures are hard to find and download, and for that reason, several city officials said they had not yet reviewed them. 

Palm Beach County planners say they and a redistricting consultant are working with the data and plan to present recommendations to county commissioners in late October or early November for redrawing the boundaries of the seven-member county commission.  

The census also is used to determine how much cities and towns get in federal and state revenues. 

Huge inroads for Hispanics

In a long-predicted demographic shift, the white population dropped throughout Florida as the Hispanic population grew.

Statewide, whites are 51.5 percent of the population, down from 58 percent; Hispanics are 26.5  percent, up from 22.5 percent; blacks are 14.5 percent, down from 15 percent; Asians are 2.9 percent, up from 2.4 percent; and those declaring more than one race are at 3.6 percent, up from 1.5 percent.

The shift can be seen in Palm Beach County as well. The county’s white population dropped by 1.7 percent as its Hispanic population grew by 39.5 percent.

Non-Hispanic whites make up 52.3 percent of the county’s population, down from 60 percent,  while Hispanics have 23.5 percent of the population, up from 19 percent. The non-Hispanic black population rose 15.6 percent and makes up 17.1 percent of the county. Asians increased to 2.9 percent from 2.3 percent.

The Census Bureau considers Hispanic origin to be an ethnicity, not counted in its racial numbers. The numbers of white, black and Asian people cited in this story are those who did not claim Hispanic origin or more than one race. The bureau allows residents to claim up to six races.

Cities grew at a faster pace than the rest of Palm Beach County, with 15 percent growth in cities compared to 10.5 percent in the unincorporated areas. The white percentage of cities dropped to 51 percent from 57 percent while the black share of city populations remained flat at 20 percent. About 22 percent of the residents of Palm Beach County’s 39 cities are Hispanic. 

The unincorporated areas have larger concentrations of white residents and Hispanics but a lower proportion of black residents.

In all, 56.5 percent of county residents live in a city, up from 55.5 percent in 2010.

The figures showed that Riviera Beach remains the most populous black-majority city in Palm Beach County. The other majority-black cities are Lake Park, Mangonia Park, Belle Glade, Pahokee and South Bay. 

Among the 10 cities with more residents than Riviera Beach, West Palm Beach and Boynton Beach have the largest share of black residents, with each at 31 percent.

Palm Springs remained the county’s only majority Hispanic city, at 60 percent, up from 50 percent. Lake Worth Beach, Greenacres and Cloud Lake all topped 40 percent Hispanic while the bureau put the Hispanic population of West Palm Beach and Wellington at 24 percent. 

Here’s a deeper look at the census figures for north county cities and several neighborhoods defined by the Census Bureau:

Palm Beach Gardens

While Palm Beach Gardens’ white population grew by 13.8 percent, its overall share of the city’s population dropped to 76.6 percent from 82 percent.

The city’s Hispanic population helped fill the void, rising by 57 percent and becoming 11.4 percent of the city’s overall count, up from 8.9 percent in 2010.

The number of black residents rose 11.3 percent but black residents’ overall share of the population dipped to 3.8 percent from 4.2.

U.S. Census 2020
U.S. Census webpage at data.census.gov. (Joel Engelhardt photo)

In fact, the city has more Asians (2,597) than blacks (2,282), census figures reveal.

The Asian population grew by 75 percent, to reach 4.4 percent of the city’s population, up from 3 percent.

Palm Beach Gardens, founded in 1959, added 3,467 housing units since 2010, the fourth-most among Palm Beach County cities behind West Palm Beach, Boca Raton and Delray Beach.

That brought the city’s housing stock to 31,130, fifth-most in the county, behind those three cities and Boynton Beach but just ahead of Jupiter.
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Jupiter’s census count had the greatest discrepancy from the Census Bureau’s own April 2020 estimate, showing 4,812 fewer residents than the census expected a year ago. Even the more critical estimate produced by the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, which is used by the state between census years for revenue sharing, showed Jupiter with 2,141 more people in 2020 than the Census Bureau counted.

2020 U.S. Census
Categories at data.census.gov. (Joel Engelhardt photo)

BEBR’s 2020 numbers, which rely on the 2010 census and analysis of housing occupancy, electric utility records and building permits, also underestimated the populations of Belle Glade and Wellington by more than 1,000 and overestimated five cities in Palm Beach County by more than 2,000: Palm Beach Gardens, Boca Raton, Palm Springs, Lake Worth Beach and Greenacres.

While Jupiter’s population grew 10.7 percent, its white population increased just 1.7 percent, dropping to 76 percent of all residents from 82.6 percent.

The Hispanic population of Jupiter rose 39 percent to reach 16 percent of all town residents, up from 12.7.

Jupiter has the lowest percentage of black residents, 1.4 percent, of any large Palm Beach County city, although the Limestone Creek neighborhood off Indiantown Road is one-third black, census numbers show.

The next lowest percentage of black residents among the county’s 12 biggest cities belongs to Palm Beach Gardens, at 3.8 percent, with Boca Raton third at 5.3 percent. 

Even so, Jupiter’s black population rose by 11 percent since 2010 to 858.

The town saw a 77 percent increase in its tiny Asian population, now at 3.1 percent up from 2 percent.

The town added 854 housing units over 10 years, the Census Bureau said, with a vacancy rate — the percentage of homes either empty or secondary — of 15.9 percent, down from 20 percent in 2010.

As the home of a Florida Atlantic University campus, it registered the only student housing population in north county, with 310 residents. 

Riviera Beach

Buoyed by a rising number of Hispanics, Riviera Beach’s population increased 15.7 percent to 37,604, retaining its place as the county’s 11th-largest city and the county’s largest city with a majority black population. The number of black residents went up 8 percent but their portion of the city’s population declined to 60.8 percent from 65 percent. 

The number of Hispanic residents shot up 67 percent to 4,040. Hispanics make up 10.7 percent of the city’s population, up from 7.4 percent in 2010. Whites continued to make up 22 percent of the residents.

The city, which includes most of Singer Island and extends west of Military Trail, added 744 housing units over 10 years, the census said, while its vacancy rate dropped to 21 percent from 27.7 percent. 

North Palm Beach

The county’s 14th-largest city, North Palm Beach, rose by 9.5 percent to 13,162 residents, buoyed by a 50 percent increase in its Hispanic population.

The white population rose by 2.6 percent but represents just 82 percent of the city’s population, down from 93 percent 20 years ago. 

Those with Hispanic ethnicity rose to 9.4 percent from 3.5 percent in 2000. The 1,239 Hispanics are a 50 percent increase over 2010.

The village added 313 housing units as its vacancy rate dipped to 16.6 percent from 21 percent.

Lake Park

The county’s 17th-largest town, Lake Park, reached 9,047 residents, an 11 percent gain, after dropping 6.5 percent in the previous decennial headcount. The percentage of black residents remained steady at 53 percent but the white population dropped to 30 percent from 33 percent. Hispanics grew by 43 percent to make up 10.4 percent of the town’s population. The town had 13 more housing units but a much lower vacancy rate, 8 percent down from 16 percent 10 years ago.


The population of Tequesta at the northern edge of Palm Beach County increased 9.4 percent to 6,158, the Census Bureau found. The population of white residents rose just 3.8 percent in the county’s 18th-largest town and now accounts for 86.5 percent of Tequesta’s population, down from 91.1 percent in 2010. The percentage of residents declaring more than one race rose to 3.15 percent from less than 1 percent. The village lost 32 housing units, the bureau found, to 3,225, with the vacancy rate dipping slightly at 17 percent. 

Juno Beach

The town grew by 21.5 percent over the past 10 years, the third-fastest pace in Palm Beach County, to 3,858 residents. It’s housing stock rose by 286 units or nearly 10 percent over 2010.

While it’s white population grew by 18 percent, white residents were 90.5 percent of the town’s population, dropping from 93 percent in 2010. That coincided with a sharp rise in the number of town residents declaring themselves to be more than one race, which jumped to 87 from 21. The number of Hispanic Juno Beach residents rose by 51.7 percent to 182, making up 4.7 percent of the town’s population..

Palm Beach Shores

The population of the county’s 31st most populous town, Palm Beach Shores, rose 16.5 percent to 1,330. The city at the southern end of Singer Island is 90 percent white, down from 96 percent in 2010. Its Hispanic population doubled but still represents just 4 percent of the population. It lost seven housing units, the Census Bureau said, but its vacancy rate came in at 39 percent, down from 47 percent in 2010.

Jupiter Inlet Colony

The tiny town on the southern tip of Jupiter Island has 405 residents, up from 400 in 2010, retaining its place as the fourth-least populous town in Palm Beach County, behind Cloud Lake, Glen Ridge and the Village of Golf.

It registered nine fewer housing units, one of just 11 towns in the county to see the housing stock decline over 10 years. At the same time, its housing vacancy rate dropped from 23 percent to 21 percent. The town’s white population slipped slightly and now represents only 92 percent of residents down from 94.5 percent. The number of Hispanic residents rose to 11 from five.

The Census Bureau offers a separate count of north county neighborhoods that aren’t part of cities. Here’s a summary:  

The Acreage

While most of the sprawling semi-rural Acreage community north and west of Royal Palm Beach is in central Palm Beach County, its northern reaches extend past Northlake Boulevard. 

It’s population of 41,654, a 7.6 percent increase over 2010, would be the 11th-largest city in the county if it were incorporated, just ahead of neighboring Royal Palm Beach.

The white population dropped 4 percent and now represents 57.4 percent of The Acreage’s  population, down from 64.4 percent in 2010. The Hispanic population grew by a third and now represents 22.1 percent, up from 17.8 percent. The black and Asian populations remained about the same. 

The community of 17,000 acre lots has 13,813 homes, the Census Bureau says, an increase of 522 over 10 years.

Jupiter Farms

The semi-rural area known as Jupiter Farms west of Jupiter recorded 4.8 percent population growth to 12,572, the 2020 headcount found. The area is 81.5 percent white, down from 87.7 percent in 2010 and 11.6 percent Hispanic. The Census Bureau counted 124 more housing units over 10 years and a 4 percent vacancy rate.

Limestone Creek

The population of the unincorporated neighborhood north of Indiantown Road and east of Interstate 95 outside Jupiter, housing one of the county’s historic black neighborhoods, rose 30 percent to 1,316, census figures showed.  

The black population dropped to 33 percent from 60 percent, a decline of 179 people; while the Hispanic population grew to 32 percent from 18 percent. The white population rose to 23 percent from 16 percent. The area has undergone a building boom in recent years, with the Census Bureau counting 77 new homes and a 4.8 percent vacancy rate, down from 10 percent.

Cabana Colony

The population of this long-established neighborhood north of the Gardens Mall and east of Alternate A1A grew 2.9 percent to 2,460. The population is 59 percent white, down from 71 percent in 2010; 11 percent black, up from 9 percent; and 5 percent Asian. Another 20 percent of Cabana Colony is Hispanic, up from 13 percent, the Census Bureau said. The bureau counted 978 housing units, four more than 10 years ago, and a 5 percent vacancy rate.

Juno Ridge

The neighborhood north of PGA Boulevard and west of U.S. 1 recorded a 65 percent population gain, the Census Bureau said, to 1,186 residents. The population is 65.7 percent white, down from 72 percent and 2.4 percent black, a drop from 4.2 percent in 2010. The Hispanic population rose to 28 percent from 20 percent. Juno Ridge added 212 housing units to 652 with a 12 percent vacancy rate. 

© 2021 Joel Engelhardt. All rights reserved.

Author: Joel Engelhardt

Joel Engelhardt is an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor based in Palm Beach Gardens. He spent more than 40 years in the newspaper business, including 28 years at The Palm Beach Post. As a reporter, he covered countywide growth, the 2000 election and the birth of Cityplace in West Palm Beach. As an editor, he oversaw probes into the opioid scourge, private prisons, police-involved shootings and more. For seven years, he worked on the paper’s editorial board. Joel left The Post in December 2020. He and his wife, Donna, have lived together in Palm Beach Gardens since 1992.

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