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Florida's economy passes $1 trillion mark Friday

Florida's economy topped $1 trillion Friday. Pictured is a job fair in 2012. [MELISSA LYTTLE | Times, 2012]
Published Jul. 13, 2018

Florida may seem like another country sometimes with its wacky "Florida man" stories and uniquely-Florida crimes, but it's like another country in a new way as of today — its economic clout. Florida's economy topped $1 trillion Friday, meaning that if Florida was its own nation, it would have the 17th-largest economy in the world.

That's bigger than Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Argentina and the Netherlands.

"Becoming a $1 trillion economy means Florida is continuing to grow and create jobs, keeping unemployment lower than the national average and creating economic opportunity," said Jerry Parrish, chief economist for the Florida Chamber Foundation, in a release.

Florida, Parrish said, is currently adding about $2.74 billion to the state's gross domestic product each day.

Economic reports for the state over the past year have been positive. The state's unemployment rate has remained 3.9 percent or lower, dropping to 3.8 percent in May. The state has added 180,200 jobs over the year as of May, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Related coverage: Florida's unemployment rate drops to 3.8 percent

Despite hitting the $1 trillion mark, there's still room to grow. Wage growth has long been pointed to by economists as an area Florida's economy — and the national economy — need to address to continue growing. Typically with low unemployment, wages rise to attract talent. But pay hasn't made the competitive leap yet in recent years.

The chamber has also launched the "Florida 2030" initiative to address problem areas in the economy, such as the achievement gap in schools and the poverty rate. Currently, the chamber said, just over 40 percent of third graders can't read at or above their grade level. And about 21 percent of children under 18 years old fall within the poverty rate.

"Florida 2030 allows communities to see how they are impacted by challenges and opportunities and create their own blueprints for how to move forward," Tony Carvajal, executive vice president of the chamber, said.

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Contact this reporter at mcarollo@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.

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