Though Florida may continue to outperform the country, University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith is increasingly fretting that a recession could be on the horizon.
In his latest economic forecast, Snaith says he's never been a fan of "Chicken Little forecasting" in declaring the sky is falling — or the economy tumbling in this case — after being struck by a single acorn.
"However, if it's raining acorns and you're wondering if the scrub oak is about to fall and cut off the power to Florida's economic recovery, that's a reasonable concern," he writes.
Among the "steady stream of acorns" that makes him ponder a coming recession are several factors impacting Florida's economy directly — the ongoing Zika crisis, Brazil's recession, Great Britain's vote to exit the European Union and Canada's weakening economy.
Because of international woes, he writes, "the strength of the U.S. dollar vis-a-vis our trading partners will continue to be a downward drag on real GDP growth for the next couple years by slowing export growth and raising import growth."
On the upside, Snaith predicts Florida will grow its economy at an annualized rate of 2.7 percent between 2016 and 2019, outpacing much of the country.
Yet, Tampa Bay — which had been among the strongest slices of Florida — could show "low growth" compared to other metro areas in the state over the next four years with a relatively flat unemployment rate hovering around 4.5 percent. He predicts personal income growing 5.3 percent on average each year with average wage growth of 4 percent and the population growing 1.6 percent a year on average.
Among Snaith's other prognostications for the 2016-2019 period:
• Florida's unemployment rate should hover around 4.7 percent next year and then gradually rise through 2019, averaging 5.1 percent in that final year.
• Strongest job growth over the next four years will come in construction (up 4.9 percent); professional and business services (up 3.7 percent), leisure and hospitality (up 2 percent) and education and health services (up 2 percent).
• Stagnant housing starts will finally pick up, but not enough to meet growing near-term demand for single-family housing.
• Florida's personal income growth will be about a half-percentage point higher than the national average.
• The state's labor force will grow about 2 percent annually.
Contact Jeff Harrington at [email protected] Follow @JeffMHarrington.