Make us your home page

Wells Fargo: Florida economy to grow slowly, but still outperform national average

Florida's economy is on track to grow faster than the rest of the country through next year, its population is rebounding and the state will add a combined 64,000 jobs next year on top of 40,000 jobs this year.

But even if those predictions from Wells Fargo economists hold true, don't hold your breath for Florida to climb back to its pre-Great Recession heyday anytime soon.

Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner said he's increasingly confident we've escaped a double-dip recession this year, but he's likewise confident we've entered a post-Cold War era of "incredibly sluggish" economic recoveries.

"There's a good chance you don't recover (before) you go into the next recession … even if it's five or six years down the road," Vitner said in a conference call Monday discussing the bank's latest Florida forecast.

Economists define a recession as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. The country technically exited the recession in mid 2009 but slow growth since then hasn't been enough to cut into high unemployment.

The good news for Florida, Vitner said, is its recovery has broadened. Beyond the leisure/hospitality and health industries, the state is now adding jobs in retail, trade, and professional and business services. Over the past year, Tampa Bay has morphed from one of the biggest laggards among Florida metros to one of the state's biggest job generators.

The bad news, not surprisingly, is the still-troubled housing market.

Vitner forecast that home prices would fall another 5 percent to 8 percent in the Tampa Bay area before hitting bottom next year. "Home prices may retest their previous lows in Florida" from last December, he said.

At the same time that foreclosures continue to push down prices, the flow of foreign investors looking for housing bargains has dwindled. Europe's woes have curtailed the number of European house hunters while a weakened Canadian dollar means we're seeing fewer Canadian buyers. Even the pipeline of Latin America investors, particularly from Brazil, is slowing down.

Among other predictions:

• Florida's economy will grow by 2 percent this year and 2.2 percent in 2012, compared to about 1.5 percent average growth nationally. "The key reason for Florida outperforming (the country) is we fell harder so we have more room to recover," he said.

• Personal income will finally pick up, growing a projected 4.2 percent this year and 4.3 percent next year.

• Florida will gain a net 110,000 new residents this year and 130,000 next year.

• Home building won't reach a more normalized pace of adding 1.2 million new homes a year statewide until 2015.

Jeff Harrington can be reached at (727) 893-8242 or

Wells Fargo: Florida economy to grow slowly, but still outperform national average 10/10/11 [Last modified: Monday, October 10, 2011 4:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Appointments at Shutts & Bowen and Tech Data highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers



    Retired U.S. Navy Commander Scott G. Johnson has joined Shutts & Bowen LLP in its Tampa office as a senior attorney in the firm's Government Contracts and Corporate Law Practice Groups. Johnson brings 15 years of legal experience and 24 years of naval service to his position. At Shutts, Scott will …

    United States Navy Commander (Retired) Scott G. Johnson joins Shutts & Bowen LLP in its Tampa office. [Company handout]
  2. Macy's chairman replaces ex-HSN head Grossman on National Retail Federation board


    Terry Lundgren, chairman of Macy's Inc., will replace Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman as chair of the National Retail Federation, the organization announced Wednesday. Grossman stepped down from her position following her move from leading St. Petersburg-based HSN to Weight Watchers.

    Weight Watchers CEO and former HSN chief Mindy Grossman is being replaced as chair of the National Retail Federation. [HSN Inc.]
  3. Unexpected weak quarter at MarineMax slashes boating retailer shares nearly 25 percent


    CLEARWATER — Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, a boating business leader issued a small craft warning.

    Bill McGill Jr., CEO of Clearwater's MarineMax, the country's biggest recreational boat retailer. [Courtesy of MarineMax]
  4. CapTrust moving headquarters to downtown Park Tower


    TAMPA — CAPTRUST Advisors, a Raleigh, N.C.-based investment consulting firm, is moving its Tampa offices into Park Tower. CapTrust's new space will be 10,500 square feet — the entirety of the 18th floor of the downtown building, which is scheduled to undergo a multi-million-dollar renovation by 2018.

    CAPTRUST Advisors' Tampa location is moving into Park Tower. Pictured is the current CapTrust location at 102 W. Whiting St. | [Times file photo]
  5. Good news: Tampa Bay no longer a major foreclosure capital of the country

    Real Estate

    Once in the top five nationally for foreclosure filings, the Tampa Bay area no longer makes even the top 25.

    A few short years ago, Tampa Bay was a national hub for foreclosures. Not any more. [Getty Images/iStockphoto]