Florida’s overall economy has improved but has not fully recovered as the state continues to rely on tourism amid some lagging economic indicators.
Amy Baker, who heads the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research, shared an economic overview with more than 200 business leaders who attended the annual economic forecast breakfast sponsored by the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce.
“Florida is recovering. We still have weakness in construction,” said Baker, who predicts it will last four to five years. “But the strength in tourism is compensating for that. So we say overall, the economy is pretty strong. It’s behaving like we think it is. It’s steadily growing. It’s very predictable right now.”
Chamber Chairman Reggie Bouthillier said the group’s newly adopted guiding principles fall in line with what’s considered a priority at the state level. They include pushing elected leaders to make local businesses a priority and minimizing tax and fee burdens unless there’s a measurable benefit to the local economy.
“What I heard from the House expert is that we’re moving in the right direction as a state, but we haven’t fully recovered yet, particularly in the area of construction and jobs,” he said. “The wages still have not come back up. In Tallahassee, we have a need to also concentrate on those same areas.”
Here’s a snapshot of Florida’s Economic Overview Report:
- Florida’s prime working-age population (aged 25-54) has been adding people each month. More jobs are needed as the population increases.
- Not enough jobs are being created to keep up with the population boom ahead.
- The annual wage hovers below the national average. Leisure and hospitality — the fastest growing industry — primarily produces low-paying jobs. This industry is the bloodline to Florida’s tourism industry. Final adjusted estimates for FY 2015-16 showed that Florida saw a record 109.5 million visitors, which represents a 6.9 percent increase over FY 2014-15.
- Florida has 20 million residents, moving ahead of New York as the third most populous state in 2015.
- For the next few years, population growth will show a slight increase. The big boom will come in the long-term future. Economists predict there may be as many as 24.1 million residents by 2030. The state’s population is expected to grow by more than 5.2 million between 2010 and 2030. Senior citizens will make up the largest chunk of that growth.
- Florida’s housing market is improving but not yet back to normal.
- No county has surpassed its peak building permit activity level.
- For the first 11 months of 2016, single-family building permit activity was 13.4 percent above the same period in the prior year, continuing to fall below the 2015 annual growth rate.
- Florida had the second-highest state foreclosure rate; there should be fewer foreclosures by the end of 2018.
- Commercial and consumer credit have improved, but residential credit for home purchases continues to be a challenge.