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Robert Trigaux

Still more economic signals that Tampa Bay, Florida gaining momentum



glass-half-empty.jpgWake up and good morning.  Occasionally I get emails from readers asking why I bother to talk about what's happening in the economy in other states and metro areas. Who cares, they argue, what's happening elsewhere?

We care because without writing about a larger economic picture, we cannot tell if Tampa Bay's own economic glass is half full or half empty.

Here's a perfect example. Did you know that in the past year (November 2012 versus November 2011), the Tampa Bay metro area's jobless rate has fallen by 2.1 percentage points? That means the unemployment rate that was 10.3 percent in November 2011 dropped to 8.1 percent by November 2011.

Yeah, you might say, that's not bad but it's still too high.

But let's layer in some perspective. Tampa Bay's 2.1 percentage point drop in unemployment in that one year period was the second biggest drop in a jobless rate of any larger metro area in the United States. Only Las Vegas registered a bigger decline in that year, from a whopping 13 percent to still-too-high 10.4 percent (or 2.6 percentage points).

That also means Tampa Bay enjoyed a bigger drop in its jobless rate in the past year (November '11 to November '12, the most current data available) than any other larger (1 million or more people) area in Florida.

Of note, the Orlando metro area also enjoyed a healthy drop in unemployment in the same period, dropping 2.1 percentage points, from 9.9 percent to 7.8 percent.

So now we have the two major central Florida metro areas together reporting some of the fastest dropping jobless rates in America. This is promising for Tampa Bay and the greater I-4 corridor. All this and more is captured in this recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

Let's add one more bit of news that suggests Florida's economy is regaining momentum. The Wall Street Journal reports that Americans are starting to relocate more often again after years of being stuck where they lived because of poor job options and/or the inability to sell their homes without taking a big loss. The Journal piece here says that between April 1, 2010 and July 1, 2012, Florida ranked No. 2 (behind Texas) in states that benefited from people moving within the United States.

Check out this breakdown of how the populations of states changed due to domestic migration in that 16-month period:

The 5 big gainers

Texas: +290,354
Florida: +219,003
North Carolina: +72,136
Colorado: +62,296
Arizona: +48,259

The 5 big losers

New York: -224,468
Illinois: -156,197
California: -104,093
New Jersey: -103,252
Michigan: -93,368

The bulk of winners in population gains are mostly Sun Belt states while most losers are cold weather states. But, more to the point, big winner states like Texas and Florida are low tax or no personal income tax states, while the bulk of loser states rank among the highest in state taxes.

Is it that simple? The states that have the greatest population gains win? Hardly. But it's one indication that they are more attractive in a 2010-2012 period of time when a weak U.S. economy had many people looking for better opportunities and less costly places to live and work.

-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times







[Last modified: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 7:18am]


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