Just How Is Florida's Economy Doing?

When asked to comment on a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau that says Florida is the third poorest state in the nation, Gov. Rick Scott's office directed Sunshine State News to the Department of Economic Opportunity. The DEO's deputy chief communications officer, James Miller, did not comment on the SPM specifically, but said "Florida’s economy is moving in the right direction as the state’s unemployment rate declines each month and more Floridians find jobs."

He then went on to list a number of what he said are "positive indicators that show the progress the state has made recently." Here's what he gave us:

More Jobs Being Created

• Florida has experienced positive annual job growth now for 27 consecutive months.
• Florida’s job growth month-to-month has been positive for 13 of the last 16 months.
• Florida is expected to create more than 900,000 new jobs by 2018, according to the Florida Economic Estimating Conference.
• Florida job postings increased sharply in October 2012 compared to the previous October by 28,140 (an increase of 11.9 percent), for a total of 264,636 openings (seasonally adjusted) according to the Help Wanted OnLine data series from the Conference Board.

Economic Growth Trends Up Across State
• The University of Florida’s Consumer Confidence Index reported that optimism among Floridians remained near a post-recession high in October. The Index reports that Floridians’ positive outlook is holding consistently at or near a five-year high.
• More people are moving into Florida. Net in-migration is up (more people moving into Florida than moving away) to an estimated 134,500 in 2012 – almost doubling 2011 in-migration of 68,000.
• Florida housing starts were up over the year in September (the most recent month available) by 29.3 percent and median home prices were up 7.4 percent over the year.
• Home sales remain robust as the backlog of existing homes on the market is down by 40 percent from September 2011 (Florida Realtors).
• Florida is running a trade surplus of over $24 billion – with $86.8 billion in exports and $62.4 billion in imports in 2011, up from $73.1 billion in exports in 2010 and $53.2 billion in imports in 2010.

Unemployment Continues to Decline
• Florida’s unemployment rate has now declined year-over-year for 23 consecutive months.
• Initial claims for Re-employment Assistance benefits were down by 12.4 percent from one year ago, while continued claims were down from an average of 553,000 in December 2010 to 293,268 in October 2012, a 47 percent decrease.

Workforce Boards Assisting in Employment
• In October, the state’s 24 Regional Workforce Boards reported a record of more than 50,423 Floridians placed in jobs.
• An individual who receives employment and training assistance through a One-Stop Career Center and finds a job within 180 days is deemed a placement and may be reported by a regional workforce board. Of these individuals, 15,078 previously received Re-employment Assistance. Since January, more than 337,000 Floridians were placed in jobs, with nearly 85,000 former claimants finding employment.

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