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Recession snares six energy states as Florida economy defies signs of slowdown

While Florida's economic recovery chugs along, Alaska is among a half-dozen energy-dependent states to have fallen into recession. Its latest unemployment rate of 6.7 percent is the highest in the country. This file photo is of the Arctic Challenger, which had been designated for drilling off the coast of Alaska. 
[Associated Press file photo]

Published Jan. 24, 2017

Amid all the talk of the U.S. economic rebound and job growth comes news that a bevy of states are, by one respected eye, already in a recession.

A report by S&P Global Ratings says recession hit six of the eight biggest oil-producing states in 2016, a result of the impact from the global commodity's slide on the American energy market. Alaska, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Wyoming are in a recession, with the larger and more diverse Texas economy evading the clutches of a downturn thus far. Montana also escaped.

Recession in parts of the country? Floridians probably did not see this coming. This state last Friday announced that its jobless rate held steady at 4.9 percent in December, as it was in November. The U.S. unemployment rate is 4.7 percent.

The only blip that bears watching is that Florida actually lost jobs in December from a month earlier. Jobs declined in the month by 700, a modest number to be sure, though private sector jobs actually dropped by 2,700 in December. It was only the addition of 2,000 new government jobs in this state that helped trim the total job decline to 700 in December.

Whether the job dip is a harbinger of slowing times for Florida seems unlikely for now. Florida added 251,400 jobs in all of 2016, more than any other state except California.

Still, I'm a big believer in maintaining economic perspective. Here are three indicators just out from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that let us know where Florida stands among the 50 states:

19: The number of states whose December unemployment rates were significantly lower than Florida's 4.9 percent.

2.6: Percent of jobless in New Hampshire, as of December the lowest unemployment rate of any state.

• 6.7: Percent of jobless in Alaska, as of December the highest unemployment rate of any state. Alaska is one of those six states now in a recession, says S&P Global.

So where does Florida stand among its peers? Not too hot, not too cold. Comfortably in the economic middle.

Contact Robert Trigaux at Follow @venturetampabay.


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