1. Business

Economic indicators show Florida is back, but not all is rosy

Remember way back in early 2007, before the Great Recession wrecked the party? That rosy era of percolating retail sales, rising consumer confidence and surging stocks.

At least by some economic measures . . . we're back.

The latest dose of encouragement came Friday: The consumer sentiment index by Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan zoomed up 5 points in mid December to reach the highest point since February 2007. The news follows a robust 5 percent jump in retail sales in November compared to a year ago, aided by an early spree of holiday shopping.

Don't break out the bubbly yet. This ever-so-sluggish recovery still has a long way to go.

At 6 percent, Florida's unemployment is still too high to indicate a healthy economy, not too mention far higher than its incredible low of 3.3 percent during the 2006 construction boom. Wages are stagnant; home prices have yet to fully recover.

Still, in more ways than one, trend lines are encouraging.

— Jeff Harrington, staff writer

• There are now more employed Floridians than ever (just more than 9 million), trumping the pre-recession peak (8.9 million).

• Florida's consumer confidence rose again in November to reach the highest point since March 2007.

• The number of online job openings in Florida reached an all-time high last month with a total of 279,394 openings, according figures from the Conference Board.

• Even with a sell-off this week and retraction from recent record highs, stock market prices remain far higher than the pre-recession peak.