Latino immigration drives Florida to overtake New York as third most populous U.S. state

Florida has officially become the third most populous U.S. state, the office of Gov. Rick Scott announced Tuesday.

"Today's news of Florida officially becoming the third most populous state is exciting," said Scott in a communique.

Figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau show that with 19,893,297 residents, the Sunshine State has overtaken New York – which has 19.7 million people – as the nation's third largest state, thanks in large part to many years of Latino immigration, which has been responsible for 80 percent of its population growth.

California, the most populous state, now has 38,802,500 residents, and Texas is in the No. 2 spot with 26,956,958.

Half the U.S. Latino population lives in the top three states.

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Scott emphasized that Florida's population growth was due to the pace of its economy and the creation of 715,000 new jobs in the private sector in less than four years.

The governor added that more good news had been received lately, with the state's unemployment rate standing at 5.8 percent in November, the lowest since 2008.

Florida, which registers an average of 803 new residents each day, is "on the way to become the number one destination for jobs and we continue to be the best place to live, work and raise a family."

The state has also benefited from its booming tourist trade, its real estate market and its construction, healthcare and banking sectors, in addition to having good job opportunities and an enviable climate.

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