Florida economy to hit $1 trillion this year, business researchers predict

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TALLAHASSEE — Florida will become a $1 trillion economy — roughly the size of Indonesia and creeping up on Spain — and create 180,000 jobs by the end of 2018, again outpacing the U.S. economy in job growth, Florida Chamber Foundation researchers said Tuesday at the organization’s Economic Outlook Summit.

By comparison, California has a GDP of about $2.5 trillion, Texas $1.6 trillion and New York $1.5 trillion.

“If Florida was a stock, it would be considered a strong buy. But, while Florida’s economic outlook for 2018 is positive, it’s not without risks, some of which can be mitigated and some of which are larger than Florida,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the organization, in a statement.

“Florida’s leaders should remain focused on positioning Florida as a leader in global job creation, innovation and economic opportunity,” Wilson said. “We must continue to signal that Florida is open for business and ready for economic development investments.”

The chamber’s researchers’ key findings include:

• Florida will continue to lead the nation in job creation. Since the Great Recession, Florida has created an average of 1 in every 10 jobs in the U.S. Florida’s job creation is expected to outpace the nation’s overall for the eighth year in a row.

• Very low probability of a recession. The Florida Leading Indicators Index projects strong growth and there is a 91 percent likelihood Florida will not enter a recession over the next nine months.

• Florida’s economy already is larger than Saudi Arabia’s and will overtake Mexico’s spot in the global economy in the coming years.

• Business confidence is high. Initial findings released at the summit Tuesday of a statewide survey of Florida “C Suite” executives conducted for the Florida 2030 report show “very high” business confidence and the likelihood of continued investments over the coming months.

• Population growth will continue to drive Florida’s economy. Florida is the third most populous state in the nation and has been growing at a rate of more than 800 residents per day over the past year. This level of growth — and higher — is expected to continue through 2018. The influx of Puerto Rican evacuees that will choose to stay in Florida and the recently passed federal tax bill that favors more competitive, low tax states like Florida could mean an increase in skilled professionals and families moving from high tax states such as New York and California.

• Florida could do more. Florida’s growth, while expected to continue, faces “two potential constraining variables,” a shortage of skilled labor, especially in construction, and a lack of attainable housing.

• Long-term risks include global risk and uncertainty, losing consistent leadership at the state level and a rise in the cost of living and doing business, due to overregulation and Florida’s bottom-ranked legal climate.

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Rick Roth