Florida's economy growing faster than other big states and far better than U.S. overall

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When it comes to economic growth, Florida's running alongside the leading states and well ahead of the United States as a whole.

New figures show Florida's real gross domestic product (GDP) rose 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 — the latest quarterly data available — ranking the Sunshine State fourth in growth among the states and District of Columbia, behind Texas, Utah and Washington. For all of 2016, Florida's GDP increased 3 percent, ranking fifth behind Washington, Oregon, Utah and New Hampshire.

Among the five most populated states, Florida's GDP was fastest growing in 2016, with California's 2.9 percent GDP growth following a close second. For the fourth quarter last year, Texas' GDP outgrew Florida's, 3.4 percent to 3.1 percent, but the Lone Star State grew at a much slower pace for all of 2016.

U.S. growth has averaged 2.1 percent a year since the recession ended in mid-2009. The nation's GDP growth rate slowed to just 1.5 percent over the year and 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter — well below Florida's pace.

The U.S. news is better for 2017. The U.S. Commerce Department last month estimated national GDP growth at a 0.7 percent annual rate during the first three months. But on Friday, revised figures for the first quarter showed a stronger annual rate of 1.2 percent, with signs of additional momentum in the current quarter ending June 30.

Florida's bullish numbers did not escape Gov. Rick Scott, who rarely misses an opportunity to cheer on the state economy. "Our economy is booming and we must stay focused on continuing this growth so Florida can out-compete other locations for jobs wins," he said Friday. Scott again expressed disappointment the state Legislature did not fully fund Florida's economic development programs.

"We will keep fighting to make sure Florida businesses keep growing," he said.

In sheer value, Florida's 2016 real GDP — a measure of economic output — was $815.1 billion, the fourth-largest in the nation behind No. 1 California, Texas and New York.

Contact Robert Trigaux at [email protected] Follow @venturetampabay.

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