Florida Regaining Economic Steam

Florida appears to be recapturing its economic mojo.


Sunshine State on the Up-Swing

After falling harder than most states during the Great Recession -- the result of double-digit unemployment and housing values cut in half in many areas -- the Sunshine State has regained lost ground in the categories of jobs, visitors, housing, manufacturing and other key sectors.  In some areas, like tourism, Southwest Florida and the rest of the state are even exceeding levels attained during the economic boom years of the last decade.


As 2015 begins, some analysts expect Florida's overall economy to grow this year by 4.1 percent -- a third greater than the nation's rate and one of the fastest growth rates in the U.S.  Much of the boost can be attributed to northern visitors and retirees, who are selling their homes or buying second ones here and providing a significant lift to cornerstone industries such as hospitality, health care and construction.


But more macroeconomic influences -- including the booming stock market, historically low mortgage rates and declining fuel prices -- also are helping Southwest Florida, analysts say.  "I think Southwest Florida has benefited disproportionately from the boom in the stock market and the bond market, and by all the wealth created by the stock market's incredible bull run," said Sean Snaith, an economist at the University of Central Florida.


The region "tends to attract the more affluent retirees, and those are the people who, by and large, have reaped the benefits of a booming stock market. They are able to finance new home purchases and cash out assets and retire."


Posted by:  By Michael Pollick / Herald Tribune / 10 Jan 2015