Florida’s economy continued to expand at a modest pace during January, according to the most recent economic data.
The state’s unemployment rate dropped from 7.9 percent in December 2012 to 7.8 percent in January 2013 — a decrease of .1 percentage points over the month. Accelerating job growth confirms that Florida’s labor market is improving heading into 2013. Florida employers added 15,400 nonagricultural jobs during the month — a solid payroll employment change contrasted with previous months.
New housing permits increased by 22 percent from December 2012 to January 2013, indicating that the housing recovery remains intact despite fears regarding sequestration and a higher payroll tax rate.
While new housing permits are typically volatile from month to month, the overall trend for Florida’s housing market is positive. The increasing activity in housing bodes well for Florida’s economic recovery, as nearly 50 percent of the state’s employment loss since the Great Recession directly results from the contraction in the construction industry.
Additional building permits suggest that we should expect more home construction in the months ahead. As home prices increase across the state, we expect overall economic activity to grow because of new home construction and increased consumer spending.
During March, Florida’s consumer confidence index increased slightly to 74 from a reading of 73 in the month of February.
Consumer confidence considers residents’ financial situations and outlook for the economy. The long-run trend in consumer confidence has been positive since the time series bottomed out in mid-2008.
The recent rally in U.S. equities prices has gained attention in recent weeks, and is an encouraging sign for the economic outlook.
From "State and National Economic Briefing" published March 26 by Rick Sessa, Florida Chamber of Commerce.