There's little debate that Florida's economy is improving.
Look no further than Friday's jobs report, which shows unemployment statewide falling to a six-year low of 6 percent, a sturdy 34,400 jobs added over the month, and more discouraged jobless finally re-entering the labor pool.
However — 51/2 years after the technical end of the Great Recession — there's also little debate that the state has a long way to go to receive a clean bill of health for its workforce of nearly 8 million. ...
BY JEFF HARRINGTON • Times Staff Writer
Years past, at the dawn of modern retail's favorite season, two kinds of holiday shoppers crawled out from the consumer masses:
• The organized, meticulous buyer checking off everyone on their list before the neighbors even pondered decking the halls.
• And — the category so many of us embrace — the proverbial procrastinator shopping for a blouse for his wife and toys for his kids before rushing home Christmas Eve to set out a tray of cookies for Santa....
11/20/14 Personal Finance
Any spurts of job creation aside, it's still hard to make a living in Tampa Bay.
The latest evidence of hardship comes courtesy of the U.S. Department of Commerce, which released data Thursday showing that per capita personal income rose a tepid 1.3 percent in Tampa Bay in 2013, trailing the nationwide average of 2 percent.
Bottom line: Bay area residents, on average, made $40,425 in 2013, up from $39,903 in 2012 but far shy of the U.S. average of $44,765 and even more distant from the per capita income in all metro areas: $46,177....
Rejuvenated Florida shoppers are expected to increase spending on gifts this season at a faster pace than the rest of the country, according to the Florida Retail Federation's annual forecast.
The federation on Thursday predicted a 5 percent jump in holiday shopping statewide, which would be the biggest increase since 2008 and better than the 4.1 percent increase forecast nationwide.
Rick McAllister, president and CEO of the state trade group, dismissed concerns over wage stagnation and still-high unemployment making cash-strapped consumers reluctant to spend. "We're looking forward to a robust year," McAllister said in a media conference call. "We're going to do well. … The indicators tell us that." ...
11/19/14 Economic Development
During the three decades he's been dissecting Florida's economic booms and busts, Mark Vitner hasn't been this bullish about the state's future for a very long time. Not since the 1990s.
Florida is not only growing again — but for a change, it's doing it the right way, said Vitner, a senior economist with Wells Fargo Securities. It's not relying on easy credit or the "overly aggressive" use of incentives to create jobs; it also isn't overly dependent on the in-state migration of retirees....
Seven Florida companies earned top scores in the 2015 Corporate Equality Index, an annual report assessing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inclusion in major companies and law firms across the country.
The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT civil rights organization, on Wednesday released the report, which ranked 21 Florida companies on issues like nondiscrimination policies, same-sex partner benefits and offering health care plans catering to transgender workers....
Been to a Black Friday event to kick off your holiday shopping yet? Slacker.
By the calendar, the biggest day of the retail year isn't supposed to happen until Nov. 28, the day after Thanksgiving.
Don't tell that to hordes of shoppers who are already snapping up deals online and in-person through Black Friday-themed events. From Home Depot to Walmart to a cluster of small businesses in downtown St. Petersburg, there's no shortage of early deals....
Rep. Dwight Dudley proposes legislation to keep homeowners from being unwillingly dropped by Citizens11/14/14 Blog
State Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, proposed legislation Thursday intended to prevent Florida homeowners from being unwillingly or deceptively dropped from state-run Citizens Property Insurance.
In a move to shed most of its 930,000 policyholders, Citizens has been aggressively shifting polices into an assortment of small, Florida-based insurers known as "takeout companies." The onus is on consumers to fill out a form to "opt out" of the new company's offer; if they do nothing, their policies are automatically transferred out of Citizens....
State Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, introduced legislation Thursday intended to prevent Florida homeowners from being unwillingly or deceptively dropped from state-run Citizens Property Insurance.
In a move to shed most of its 930,000 policyholders, Citizens has been aggressively shifting polices into an assortment of small, Florida-based insurers known as "takeout companies." The onus is on consumers to fill out a form to "opt out" of the new company's offer; if they do nothing, their policies are automatically transferred out of Citizens. ...
Former Syniverse Holdings CEO Jeff Gordon will receive more than $2 million in severance, according to a termination of employment agreement filed this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Gordon, who resigned from the Tampa mobile communications company in August, is entitled to two years of his annual salary of $715,000 plus an amount equal to his target bonus of $715,000, the agreement states. ...
Apsco Appliance Centers, a Clearwater-based chain with locations throughout Pinellas County, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.
The retailer's parent company, Apsco Appliance & TV Centers, listed assets between $1 million and $10 million and debts in the same range in a filing Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Tampa.
Its biggest unsecured creditor is GE Commercial Distribution Finance Corp., which is owed $714,000. Other top unsecured creditors include TCF Inventory Finance and the Tampa Bay Times. Wells Fargo has a $791,000 total claim, $709,000 of it secured....
11/12/14 Economic Development
Florida added a sturdy 20,500 jobs in the private sector in October, a 30 percent surge from September and the best performance in months.
That's according to the latest regional jobs roundup released Wednesday by payroll processing company ADP.
As Florida struggles to create better-paying jobs during this prolonged economic recovery — and an alarming United Way study this week indicates nearly half of Florida households can't afford the cost of living here — ADP offered a few encouraging nuggets. ...
Vir-Sec, a Maryland software company with high ambitions of revolutionizing Internet security, is considering several locations in the downtown Clearwater area to become its new corporate headquarters and R&D lab.
Vir-Sec founder and majority owner Chris Murphy said his company is beginning to hire up to 50 employees now with expectations of expanding to more than 200 workers by 2018.
"We're coming. It's definitive," said Murphy, who made Tampa Bay his home in 2011 and is eager for a handful of workers from Vir-Sec's Reston, Va., lab and Millersville, Md., offices to join him. "Our goal is to be a part of revitalizing downtown Clearwater."...
British medical products maker Smith & Nephew is closing its St. Petersburg operation and laying off 108 workers here next year, signaling the end of a prolonged pullout from the area.
Smith & Nephew management told workers Monday that work would shift to Fort Worth, Texas, as part of consolidating its commercial operations.
"The decision to close St. Petersburg was a difficult one," the company said in a statement. "However, we believe Smith & Nephew's Advanced Wound Management business in the U.S. will be more successful operating from a single location."...
TAMPA — U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Sarah Bloom Raskin packed plenty of sunshiny optimism for her visit to the Sunshine State last week.
She's confident the country is "in a good place" in its economic recovery, does not see a huge risk of inflation and rejects the notion that the nation's debt will be an economic millstone.
She's even optimistic that Democrats and Republicans in Washington will find ways to work together. ...