MAITLAND — Florida got an early Christmas present this week, when the latest jobs numbers indicated that the Sunshine State’s economy was clearly on the upswing.
On Friday, the office of Gov. Rick Scott announced that in November, the state experienced the single highest month of private sector job growth in four years, when 38,000 jobs got created in Florida.
In total, the governor’s office noted, Florida businesses have added 715,700 private-sector jobs since December 2010.
Last month, the state’s unemployment rate was 5.8 percent, the lowest since May 2008, and about the same as the national average.
The governor made the announcement during a trip to Maitland, as part of his appearance at Viewpost, a financial services and business invoicing firm that announced it would create 262 new jobs in the Orlando area over the next three years.
For a state that had crashed economically when the housing market collapsed in 2008 and the national recession set in, the governor was clearly eager to boast about the turnaround.
“Four years ago, we unveiled an ambitious plan to fix Florida’s economy and turn the state around,” Scott said. “Our goal was to create 700,000 jobs in seven years. Today our goal was reached three years early, with 715,700 private-sector jobs created in Florida since December 2010.”
Scott was re-elected last month, narrowly defeating Charlie Crist, a former Republican governor who was running this year as a Democrat. The improving economy was considered a crucial factor in the governor’s successful bid for a second term.
“I applaud our job creators across the state who sacrifice and work hard to create new jobs,” he said. “Every job impacts a family and we will keep working each day to make Florida the world’s number one destination for jobs.”
The governor’s office also noted that since December 2010 — a month before Scott took office — Florida’s unemployment rate has dropped 5.3 percent, from 11.1 percent down now to 5.8 percent — a decline that’s held steady for 48 of the last 51 months.
Jesse Panuccio, executive director of the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity, issued a statement noting that this was a remarkable turnaround for a state that suffered one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates, and worst home foreclosure rates, at the height of the recession.
“Florida’s incredible economic turnaround story had one of its best chapters yet in November,” he said. “Our private sector continues a long-term trend of nation-leading job creation, decreased unemployment, labor force growth, and record job demand. Pro-growth policies work and Florida’s economy is proof.”
But it wasn’t just the governor and members of his administration trumpeting the economic improvement on Friday.
University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith looked at the jobs numbers and said Florida was ending the year on a very high note.
“The November jobs report was a strong finish to a year that saw Florida’s labor market continue to strengthen,” he said. “Given that Florida’s economy contracted through 2011, the juxtaposition of Florida’s strong growth during the past two years compared to a national recovery that has sputtered for 5 and a half years makes the pace of Florida’s turnaround all the more impressive.”
Snaith predicted that economy would continue to gain strength next year.
“There is some economic turbulence on the horizon, so there will be bumps ahead, but Florida’s economy is poised well for 2015,” he said.
Snaith is a national expert in economics, forecasting, market sizing and economic analysis. He’s also the author of a quarterly report about the state of the economy.
There are plenty of indicators of future economic growth at the moment. The quarterly Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, which projects hiring intentions, has noted that 22 percent of businesses surveyed expected to hire more workers in the first quarter of 2015.
The governor’s office also pointed out that Florida’s home sales have stayed strong, with the backlog of existing homes on the market down by 33.7 percent from December 2011, according to the Florida Realtors Association, while the median home price in the state was up 4.6 percent over the year in October 2014.
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