The Florida economy is on pace to expand in the first half of 2017 as state real gross domestic product growth improves, boosted by strong job and income growth. Construction employment alone, which is the third largest labor sector after private services and government, added 15,800 jobs in the first three months of 2017. The growth story is no longer just about tourism and retirees. Florida manufacturing employment has grown at an average of 3.3 percent over the past three years, well above the U.S. average of 0.9 percent. The state economy continues to diversify by attracting new businesses and effectively capitalizing on its large number of educational institutions that develop skilled workers. However, there are potential headwinds in the near term. The Florida legislature recently approved a budget which would cut funding for Enterprise Florida, the primary economic development organization for the state and Visit Florida, an organization focused on marketing tourism. While tourism is not the only show in town, the leisure and hospitality industry still makes up 14 percent of total state employment. Governor Scott still has to decide whether to veto or sign the budget into state law.
Florida tourism is also experiencing a shift from international traveler demand to domestic demand. The economic slowdown in Canada and Brazil, and the strengthening of the U.S. dollar versus global currencies, led to declining international travel to Florida last year. A stronger overall U.S. economy will continue to boost domestic tourism into Florida, helping to fill the gap and support state consumer spending in 2017.
For a PDF version of the complete Florida Economic Outlook, click here: FL_Outlook_0517.