Florida recorded a second straight month of job gains after four months of stagnant growth in employment, according to figures released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS].
Since July 2018, Florida employers have created 227,000 jobs — 128,000 since January — for an annual growth rate in employment of 1.3 percent, more than any state other than California and Texas.
The new job report was part of a trifecta of good economic news for the state in early August as Florida’s ‘AAA’ bond rating was reaffirmed by S&P Global Ratings and Visit Florida, the state tourism promotion agency, reported 68.9 million tourists visited Florida over the first six months of 2019 — a 5 percent increase over the same period last year and the largest number of visitors during any six-month period.
Florida posted a 3.3 percent unemployment rate on July 31, a 0.1 decrease from June’s unemployment rate and significantly below the nation’s 3.7 unemployment rate, according to the BLS.
With the addition of 23,000 jobs in July — more than any state other than Texas — there are now more than 10 million people employed in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday.
“I am proud of our work to ensure Florida remains a state where businesses are encouraged to grow and create jobs,” DeSantis said. “We are continuing to prioritize policies that promote economic growth, including lowering taxes, smart investments in the environment and working to make Florida the best state in the nation for workforce education.”
According to the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity [DEO], Florida’s private-sector businesses have created more than 218,000 jobs since July 2018, including 28,200 in July.
The state’s annual private-sector job growth rate of 2.8 percent “continues to outpace the national job growth rate of 1.7 percent,” the DEO notes.
Education and health services, with 65,900 new jobs, were the leading private sector job-generators followed by professional and business services with 41,900 new jobs; leisure and hospitality with 25,900 new jobs; trade, transportation, and utilities with 23,000 new jobs; construction with 21,300 new jobs, and financial services with 18,200 new jobs.
There were 285,133 job openings posted statewide in July 2019, according to the DEO.
“Gov. DeSantis is leading the way — making the smart strategic investments across the state that are strengthening Florida’s economy in a real and sustainable way,” DEO Executive Director Ken Lawson said in a statement. “These employment numbers show that people believe they have the opportunity to live well and thrive in Florida.”
On July 19, the DEO reported 16,100 jobs were created statewide in June, ending four months of flat growth or declines in employment.
But with 128,000 jobs created since January, the state is within reach of the Florida Chamber’s goal of adding 150,000 new jobs to the state’s economy in 2019.
Metro Orlando added almost 47,000 new jobs in the past year, followed by the Tampa and Miami areas, which both added around 31,000 jobs in the past year, according to the DEO.
July marked 52 consecutive months that the Orlando area has led the state in job-creation with professional and business services — 15,200 new jobs — and leisure and hospitality — 10,200 new jobs — generating the most employment.
In reaffirming Florida’s ‘AAA’ bond rating, S&P Global Ratings praised DeSantis’s environmental initiatives, including appointing the state’s first Chief Resilience Officer and goal to secure $2.5 billion over four years for Everglades restoration and protection of the state’s water resources.
According to Visit Florida, although the state saw a 5-percent increase in visitors over the first six months of 2019, visits from international travelers, excluding Canada. were down by about 2 percent.
John Haughey is the Florida contributor to The Center Square.