The number of employed Floridians is returning to pre-recession levels. The news comes from a Florida TaxWatch mid-year job growth report.
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida added nearly 120,000 jobs from January to June this year. That’s up more than 30 percent from the same time period last year. In the past year, five sectors (trade, transportation, and utilities; professional and business services; construction; leisure and hospitality; education and health services) each added more than 30,000 jobs. Trade, transportation, and utilities added the most: more than 52,000.
Florida TaxWatch Chief Economist Jerry Parrish says this growth is pulling Florida out of the recession.
“When you see five different categories that are pretty similar at the top, what you’re seeing is a balanced growth of jobs," Parrish says. "It’s not just one single category, or two single categories, like there are in some states.”
The state has 2,000 more working residents than it did in its pre-recession peak in 2007. But while the state’s 6.2 percent unemployment rate is down from 7.4 percent last year, it is still higher than 2007’s 4 percent unemployment.
FSU economics Professor Randall Holcombe is optimistic about Florida’s future.
“There’s certainly room for more recovery. So we’re not going to say we have full employment or there’s no room for further recovery, but when you look at the trends, everything looks pretty good,” Holcombe says.
Florida added more than 37,000 jobs in June, which was the largest increase nationwide. But in May the state had the largest nationwide decrease: nearly 18,000 jobs lost. Holcombe says tourism and other factors affect how Florida retains jobs.
“At least part of how well Florida’s economy does depends on how well the national economy does," Holcombe says. "If there’s a downturn, and people decide they don’t want to take their Florida vacations, that will hurt Florida’s economy.”
Holcombe notes, however, Florida’s recent job growth has also occurred in areas not directly related to tourism.