Sunday, September 23, 2018
Business

How are we doing? 5 numbers spotlight how Florida economy compares to other states

Is Florida "keeping up with the Joneses?"

It's hard to judge how the Sunshine State economy is doing without peeking at how the neighbors are faring, in this case the country's other 49 states. Here are five numbers, gleaned from new U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics that indicate Florida's economy may be improving in some ways but trailing other states in other significant measures. And one key number below raises the question: Is Florida's job machine, long touted by the state's top elected officials, showing signs of running out of steam? Let's go to the numbers.

5.2 That's Florida's latest unemployment rate, which dropped in September to a seven-year low, down from 5.4 percent in August. That's good news, of course, but how good compared to other states? According to the BLS, 19 states reported higher jobless rates than Florida in September with West Virginia's the highest at 7.3 percent. But even more states (27) reported lower unemployment rates than Florida with North Dakota (whose entire workforce is smaller than Tampa Bay's) lowest at 2.8 percent. Texas, a bigger state in population than Florida and one Florida Gov. Rick Scott loves to compete against, enjoyed a sharply lower 4.2 percent jobless rate. And remember, the nation's unemployment rate of 5.1 percent is still lower than Florida's.

2,100 That's the puny number of jobs Florida added statewide in September, a figure so low it raises concern that Florida's bullish employment scene might be slowing. As the country's third most populated state, Florida typically ranked among the handful of states like California and Texas that added the most jobs each month. In September, the state leaders in adding jobs for the month were Texas (26,600 added) and New York (12,000). Even neighboring Georgia added more than four times as many jobs (9,100) as Florida. This is just a one-month snapshot and might not be a trend, but the job slowdown in Florida bears watching.

235,700 A strong showing by Florida, this is the number of jobs the state added in the past year. It is second in size only to California (444,300 added) and, to Gov. Scott's delight, slightly bigger than the Texas increase (224,800), which was no doubt limited by the past year's blow to the energy industry and sharply lower gasoline prices. Still, take note that Texas roared past Florida (see above) in the latest monthly job creation numbers.

1 Regionally, Florida's 5.2 percent jobless rate makes the state No. 1 in low unemployment. The closest any state in the Southeast gets to Florida's rate is South Carolina's 5.7 percent rate. The Carolinas, Georgia and Tennessee are all in the high 5 percent range while Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana are 6 percent or higher. You have to go as far north as Virginia (4.3 percent) or as far west as Texas (4.2 percent) to find lower unemployment.

5 That's how many significant industries in Florida lost jobs in September from August. Those sectors are, in order of magnitude, government (6,600), professional and business services (3,800), education and health services (2,300), manufacturing (1,500) and information (900). Note how many of these sectors rank among higher-paying industries. The biggest sector to add jobs in September was leisure and hospitality (7,200), which tends to offer lower-wage work. It continues the debilitating trend of Florida adding more low-wage jobs in place of high-wage opportunities.

Bottom line?

Focusing on Florida's declining unemployment rate and the sheer number of jobs created offer only a rose-colored glimpse of the state economy. The state is running in the middle of the 50-state pack in many ways.

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

Comments
Nearly half of cellphone calls will be scams by 2019, report says

Nearly half of cellphone calls will be scams by 2019, report says

Nearly half of all cellphone calls next year will come from scammers, according to First Orion, a company that provides phone carriers and their customers caller ID and call blocking technology.The Arkansas-based firm projects an explosion of incomin...
Published: 09/23/18
Walmart is teaming with a Seminole Heights chef to promote locally grown mushrooms

Walmart is teaming with a Seminole Heights chef to promote locally grown mushrooms

TAMPA — It might seem like an unlikely match from the outside: A distinguished chef with a restaurant known for inventive plates using produce shoppers can find at… Walmart?Walmart, the country’s largest grocer, is known for having a core consumer wh...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Joe and Son's Olive Oils, a legacy Ybor business, finds new roots in Carrollwood

Joe and Son's Olive Oils, a legacy Ybor business, finds new roots in Carrollwood

Andrea Gebbia grew up in Carrollwood, and now she is bringing the family business to the neighborhood of her youth.In late fall, Joe and Son’s Olive Oils is slated to open a second location."I feel so blessed having the ability to grow my...
Published: 09/21/18
Updated: 09/22/18
Tampa General nurses record the last heartbeats of dying patients, making a family memory

Tampa General nurses record the last heartbeats of dying patients, making a family memory

TAMPA — As John Reisinger waited with family at Tampa General Hospital, grief settled in like a fog. So some of the details are hazy.But he remembers the moment when three women in white lab coats approached him.The day before, his niece, Jessica Rau...
Published: 09/21/18
Retro Fitness sets first of several area locations in Citrus Park

Retro Fitness sets first of several area locations in Citrus Park

In early fall, Retro Fitness will open a 17,000 square foot fitness facility in Citrus Park, and it plans for more Tampa Bay area locations.Founded in 2005, Retro Fitness has 153 clubs throughout the United States and is the official fitness center o...
Published: 09/21/18
The guys who brought you Tampa’s Armature Works plan high-end offices next door, and they’ve already signed a lease with med-tech company AxoGen

The guys who brought you Tampa’s Armature Works plan high-end offices next door, and they’ve already signed a lease with med-tech company AxoGen

TAMPA — Coming soon from the developers who brought you the Armature Works: Heights Union, two high-end office buildings next door to the trendy food hall, event space and co-working complex overlooking the Hillsborough River.Developers said Friday t...
Published: 09/21/18
Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea looks to succeed where others failed

Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea looks to succeed where others failed

RIVEVIEW – Amy Lin knows that her newest Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea store is in a location where previous businesses have not lasted.The short-lived Tap’s Brewhouse & Deli and even shorter-lived Top Shelf Sports Bar and Grill tried to r...
Published: 09/21/18
Federal loans open to Pinellas businesses struggling against Red Tide

Federal loans open to Pinellas businesses struggling against Red Tide

The U.S. Small Business Administration has extended its disaster loan program to include Pinellas and Pasco county businesses affected by Red Tide.Already, the Pinellas County Economic Development Office was taking applications for bridge loans to he...
Published: 09/21/18
Watch: A southern white rhinoceros calf just a week after being born at ZooTampa

Watch: A southern white rhinoceros calf just a week after being born at ZooTampa

TAMPA — A southern white rhinoceros gave birth to a calf at ZooTampa on Sept. 12, marking the sixth successful birth of the species in the zoo's history. In a news release, ZooTampa said southern white rhinoceroses are a nearly threatened spec...
Published: 09/21/18
Baggers, cashiers soon can grow beards at Publix

Baggers, cashiers soon can grow beards at Publix

ORLANDO — The faces of baggers, cashiers and stockers at a Florida-based grocery chain may look slightly different in the near future.That's because Publix said Friday that it would start allowing workers to grow beards and other facial hair b...
Published: 09/21/18