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  • Elliot Cohen

HERALD-TRIBUNE, January 28, 2019 –

HIELSCHER: Florida economy ends year strong, is poised to outpace US in 2019

By John Hielscher
Staff Writer

The Florida economy ended the year on a high note and appears well positioned for more growth in 2019.

That’s the opinion of economists at Wells Fargo Securities, who say the Sunshine State should continue to outperform the nation this year.

The Florida labor market remained “hot” in December, with employers expanding payrolls by 22,800 jobs, the second consecutive month in which employment rose by 0.3 percent, Wells Fargo senior economist Mark Vitner and others said in a report. For the year, total nonfarm employment rose by 231,200, or 2.7 percent.

“Florida continues to be a standout compared to the nation as a whole, which saw employment rise 1.8 percent in December, and has posted stronger year-over-year job growth than the nation for every month, save for one, since May 2012,” Vitner said. “The lone lagging month was September 2017, when Hurricane Irma severely disrupted the state’s economy.”

All but one of Florida’s 24 metro areas, including Sarasota-Manatee and Punta Gorda (Charlotte County), posted year-over-year job gains. Only Panama City, still recovering from Hurricane Michael, lost jobs.

Leading sectors for job growth statewide included education/heath care, construction, leisure/hospitality and professional and business services.

“We expect the Florida economy to remain strong in 2019, with GDP rising 3.6 percent and payrolls rising 2.1 percent,” said Vitner, a longtime tracker of the state’s health. “Inflows of retirees and tourists appear to have picked up late this year as the weather has turned colder in the Northeast and Midwest. Tax reform also appears to have convinced more folks contemplating a move to Florida to do so.

“Florida should continue to see solid job gains, albeit at a more moderate pace,” he said. “Tight labor markets in Florida and around the country are making it difficult for firms to find the skilled workers they need and will further constrain job growth this year.”

Author: Elliot Cohen

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