Make us your home page
Instagram

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 rtrigaux@tampabay.com. Follow @venturetampabay.

How are we doing? 5 numbers spotlight how Florida economy compares to other states 10/21/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 21, 2015 8:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  3. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood

    Business

    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  4. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa

    Business

    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  5. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county

    Water

    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.