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Florida’s jobless rate falls to 2.8% as its economic recovery continues

Florida’s unemployment rate dropped to 2.8% in June as the state’s labor force continued to grow, according to the state Department of Economic Opportunity.

The state’s unemployment rate has declined or held steady for 23 straight months, DEO said Friday. The national unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.6% in June.

Florida’s labor force grew by 0.4% last month with 40,000 new jobs added while the national labor force shrank 0.2%.

The Miami Bull outside the Miami Beach Convention Center. The Miami metro area saw the most private-sector job growth among all metro areas in the state and year-over-year.

Bloomberg News

On a year-over-year basis, Florida’s labor force grew 293,000, or 2.8%, outpacing the national rate of 1.8%.

“Florida’s unemployment rate has remained lower than the nation for 19 consecutive months and is now close to a full percentage point lower than the nation as a whole,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement. “June’s data demonstrates once again that our freedom first approach is working for Floridians.”

Florida’s private-sector employment continued to show strong and steady growth.

Total private employment grew by 5.8% on a year-over-year basis, 0.9% faster than the national rate of 4.9%. Florida’s year-over-year private-sector job growth rate has exceeded the nation’s for 15 months in a row.

Private-sector industries gaining the most jobs in June were leisure and hospitality with 12,100 new jobs, education and health services with 7,800, financial activities with 3,200 and other services with 3,800 new jobs.

Florida’s open for business policies have left it in good economic shape, according to report released by Wells Fargo on Friday.

“Florida was one of the first states to completely reopen following the lockdowns at the start of the pandemic and it has been reaping economic rewards ever since,” Wells Fargo said. “After losing 1,282,500 jobs from February to April 2020, employers have rapidly hired back those displaced workers. Overall nonfarm employment surpassed the February 2020 level back in October 2021 and is now 269,000 jobs higher than its pre-pandemic peak.”

And the gains are “evident across every key industry and region of the state,” Wells Fargo said. “Florida has also seen a tremendous influx of new businesses and residents in recent years, while tourism has soared to new heights.”

The Miami metro area in June gained the most private-sector jobs, with non-farm payrolls increasing 7.3%, or 84,600 jobs.

On the year, private-sector jobs rose 8.3%, or 85,200, again the most in a metro areas. The unemployment rate dropped 3.6 percentage points on the year to 2.2%. Overall, the Miami area labor force increased 2.0%, or by 25,831 over the year.

The industries gaining the most jobs on a year-over-year basis were trade, transportation and utilities, up 27,100; leisure and hospitality, increasing 18,900 jobs; and professional and business services, rising 14,600 jobs.

The Orlando area’s private-sector employment increased 7.2%, or 82,100 jobs over the year, while the area’s labor force increased 4.8%, or by 64,121 jobs. In June, the Orlando area’s unemployment rate was 3.2%, down from the 5.7% reported in June 2021.

The industries gaining the most jobs over the year were leisure and hospitality, increasing 37,600; trade, transportation, and utilities, increasing 19,400; and professional and business services, increasing 16,600 jobs.

“Tourism recovered fairly quickly in Florida, which helped boost hiring in the leisure and hospitality sector,” Wells Fargo said. “As in most parts of the country, however, workers have been slow to return to jobs in the sector, leaving industry payrolls 42,600 below their pre-pandemic level.”

Data continued to indicate there were still many job opportunities available throughout the state, with more than 603,000 jobs posted online in June. 

“Florida has also been a magnet for jobs in the tech sector. Miami has seen a huge influx of tech companies from the San Francisco Bay Area, and tech employment has also grown rapidly in Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Orlando and along the Space Coast,” according to Wells Fargo.

Florida officials are confident the state’s finances will remain in good shape no matter what the future holds.

Just last week, Florida officials met with analysts at Moody’s Investors Service, S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings as well as having two days of in-person meetings with major institutional accounts in New York and Boston.

Florida’s general obligation bonds are rated triple-A by Moody’s, S&P and Fitch Ratings. All three agencies assign stable outlooks to the credit.

Last week, Fitch Ratings upgraded the rating on Lee County’s $182.4 million of outstanding tourist development tax revenue bonds to AA-plus from AA. Fitch also raised the county’s issuer default rating to AA-plus from AA. The outlook on the credit is stable.

The rating upgrade on the tourist tax backed bonds reflects the resilience of the bond structure to cyclical revenue decline, Fitch said, adding, it expects pledged revenues will continue to see growth, given the county’s popular tourist attractions and ongoing economic expansion.

The tourist tax bonds are backed by the county’s five-cent TDT revenues, an annual state sales tax rebate, federal interest subsidy payments related to the outstanding Series 2010 Build America Bonds and investment income. Additionally, the county gets gross revenues from lease payments by the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox, which share spring training facilities there, and a contribution from JetBlue for naming rights.

Fitch said the IDR upgrade “reflects our expectation for continued solid revenue growth given the county’s underlying economic fundamentals and rapid population growth. The rating also incorporates the county’s superior gap closing capacity supported by substantial inherent budget flexibility and consistently high reserves, and a low long-term liability burden.”

“Despite Biden administration policies that have produced record inflation, skyrocketing gas prices and slowing national GDP, Florida continues to outpace the nation with strong job growth and an increasing labor force” DeSantis said.

DeSantis is a Republican in a state that also has a GOP-dominated legislature. He has been touted as a possible presidential contender in 2024 either as a Republican challenger or successor to Donald Trump.

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