Florida a National Leader in Private-Sector Job Growth

By: Kenric Ward | Posted: March 13, 2012 3:55 AM
Jan Hatzius and Mark Wilson

Jan Hatzius, Chief Economist at Goldman Sachs, and Mark Wilson, President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce | Credit: -

Bouncing back from tough times, Florida is now among the nation's top job creators.

A Goldman Sachs survey found that job growth in four “sand states” -- Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada -- is outpacing the rest of the country.

“I was a little bit surprised,” said Jan Hatzius, chief economist at Goldman Sachs and lead author of the report. “What’s particularly interesting is the contrast this new data provide between now and where we were a year ago, when [job growth] was still below the national average.”

Bottom line: The states that got hit hardest by the recession are now recovering fastest.

In 2011, Florida added 130,000 private-sector jobs to bring its unemployment rate under 10 percent.

Florida was among the last states to see its unemployment rate peak. It hit 12 percent in December 2010. Since then, the state's recovery has been among the fastest in the country, the Goldman Sachs researchers said.

Mark Wilson, president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, said the state is benefiting from efforts to diversify the economy beyond tourism, agriculture and construction.

“Seven, eight years ago, those are all we had,” Wilson told Business Week, adding that in the past year, the state has seen strong gains in the health-care industry and manufacturing.

Looking to further stimulate private-sector employment, state lawmakers approved Gov. Rick Scott's economic-development package.

Scott press secretary Lane Wright said the governor's seven-point program was adopted in its entirety by the Legislature, which adjourned Friday.

Among its key components:
  • Streamlining business permitting and eliminating "burdensome" rules and regulations.
  • Providing tax relief, including an increase in the business tax exemption by an additional $25,000 and eliminating it for 25 percent of the companies required to pay it; exempting any business with less than $50,000 in tangible personal property, and eliminating it for roughly half of the businesses required to pay the tax levied on the amount of all articles of value owned by a business.
  • Reforming the unemployment system to create a re-employment system, requiring job training for underskilled job seekers collecting unemployment.
  • Increasing oversight of 24 locally controlled workforce boards.
  • Prioritizing key transportation projects, including improvements at 14 deep water ports and building interconnected transportation systems to serve those facilities.
  • Offering stability to Florida businesses by balancing the budget without raising taxes.
  • Prioritizing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education to focus Florida’s K-12 and higher education systems on producing graduates that can support a growing high-tech work force.
While the four "sand states" all continue to post a higher unemployment rate than the U.S. average, they will make quicker progress in reducing it this year, forecasts Moody's Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pa.

Moody's projected that California could drop to 9.8 percent from 11.2 percent by December; Florida to 8.9 percent from 9.9 percent; Nevada to 12.5 percent from 13 percent; and Arizona to 8.5 percent from 9 percent. The national jobless rate is forecast to be 8.2 percent at year's end, Moody's said.

Though California gained the most jobs of the top four states -- largely because it is nearly two times more populous than Florida -- the Golden State's heavy tax burden could constrain its growth, economists say.

Florida, with no personal income taxes and declining business levies, is No. 2 and trying harder.

Echoing Scott's employment-first agenda, Wilson said, “We want to set the model for job growth in the U.S."

Contact Kenric Ward at or at (772) 801-5341.

Comments (10)

10:34PM APR 12TH 2012
How many hired are illegal aliens hired by criminal illegal alien employers?
1:16PM MAR 13TH 2012
Right ... and the average wage of most those jobs is probably below the state's minimum wage ... because so many of those jobs are strictly seasonal jobs waiting on tables, busing tables, tending bar and the like ... paying $4.65 per hour ... which the Fascist legislature came close to reducing to $2.13!

Florida IS NOT a state where the working middle-class can expect to survive and thrive.
costa del Sol
9:59AM MAR 13TH 2012
Let's be clear, that an employment-first agenda has never been a top priority for Gov. Scott. His first priorty is to make sure that his business partners and friends in the health care sector continue to make obscene profits through fraud. Mr. Scott has a history is this area prior to becoming governor. The health care industry continues to rob this country blind and is rife with fraud and billing issues. Florida is one of the worst of course, Mr. Scott would want to be governor here to help his personal bottom line. This state is sinking. The unemployment numbers may appear to be dropping, but much of that is due to the "long term unemployed" who are no longer counted in the statistics. Ask any middle class Floridian family how they're doing, especially under Mr. Scott and the answer will not be postive. We have more companies who don't even offer basic health care for full time employees and those of us who are fortunate to have health coverage get ripped off at every turn. Florida won't recover from this mess for years to come. To say that the health care industry can save us is beyond tragic.
6:26AM MAR 13TH 2012
Excellent article Mr. Ward. Florida has always been the last to go into a recession and the first to come out. The difference this time is that housing construction and tourism is not what is pulling us out. Those will return later. Given the age of our citizens and our status as a retirement state Florida has always been involved in the medical industry. The difference now is that we have a Governor who understands the industry and can promote it intelligently.

Now if we could just get the naysayers on board for a couple of years and all of us work together for the good of Florida the sky would be the limit. We know the chances of that happening.
1:21PM MAR 13TH 2012
Since Bonzo Reagan took office ... every time Florida has come out of a recession ... the mean annual individual income and the mean family income have taken a B-I-G hit. Right now ... the mean Florida family income is just about $10,000 LESS THAN THE NATIONAL MEAN family income!

Carpetbagging PRick Scott should have been a convicted felon ... not a governor!
11:05AM MAR 13TH 2012
That's right, the Governor knows how to maximize profits (and personal holdings) in the medical field - it's called medicare fraud. Let's close public hospitals so everyone will have to use private ones (at higher costs). Let's privitize prisons and prison medical care (while having a "secret" trust held by your wife that includes an interest in prison medical care). Yes, the Governor KNOWS the medical field - the real question is how much profit will he make from it while in office.
David K.
1:01PM MAR 13TH 2012
He might want to invest in the mental health field. If you are any indication it is a booming field right now.
8:08PM MAR 13TH 2012
I'll match my Ph.D. in the hard sciences and Mensa membership against yours any day of the week. Oh, but that helps make me one of the 1%ers, doesn't it. Sorry for the bursting of your demonizing bubble, as feeble an attempt as it was.
George J.
8:41PM MAR 13TH 2012
Some of the most intelligent individuals are certifiably insane. Just sayin'. Of course some are some of the most hateful.
9:52AM MAR 14TH 2012
They - they call them far-right Big Lie Republicans

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