Most of the underlying fundamentals of the Florida economy remained positive heading into the start of 2017. Driving the state’s economy is the virtuous cycle of job growth and population gains seen over the past few years. Florida employment was up 3.1 percent in the 12 months ending in December. This is about twice the pace of overall U.S. employment growth which was up 1.6 percent in December. Florida net migration has been robust with over 300,000 people per year migrating into the state since 2014. This is well above the 25 year average of a net addition of 241,000 people per year. This virtuous cycle fueled growth in the construction, information, waste management and healthcare sectors and boosted state gross domestic product to 3.6 percent in the third quarter of 2016. However, it appears that growth in the real estate rental and leasing industry has softened heading into the end of last year. This could be due in part to the economic downturn in parts of Latin America and the relative strengthening of the U.S. dollar compared to the British pound and Euro after last year’s “Brexit” referendum. According to Florida Realtors, closed sales of townhouses and condos were down 5.0 percent over the year ending in the fourth quarter of 2016. The total months’ supply of Florida townhouses and condos for sale ticked up to 6.0 months as total active listings grew 7.9 percent from a year earlier. This trend bears watching as the real estate rental and leasing industry makes up about 14.5 percent of the state’s real economy. We expect gains in Florida’s other major sectors to continue to drive economic growth in 2017.
For a PDF version of the complete Florida Economic Outlook, click here: FL_Outlook_0217.