Florida was one of the first states to feel the effect of a national recession with job losses starting in April 2007, several months before other states. When the national recovery began in June 2009, Florida was slow to join in and for several years lagged behind the pace of the U.S. economic recovery.

In his 1st Quarter Florida Economic Forecast, UCF economist Sean Snaith notes that in 2013 Florida’s economy came from behind and in 2014 leads the nation. The Sunshine State once a straggler in the race for economic recovery is now a front-runner.

“This has been no small accomplishment,” said Snaith, the director of UCF’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness. “Looking forward, Florida will extend its lead over the national economy the next several years as we expect the Florida economy to continue to outpace the nation as a whole.”

Among the good news:

  • Unemployment rates have fallen from their peaks, in part due to a low labor-force participation rate (59.6 percent in December 2013), and they will continue to decline through 2017. The pace of decline will slow dramatically as labor-force growth picks up. Despite this significant headwind, the unemployment rate currently 6.1 percent should hit 5.4 percent by the end of 2017.
  • The sectors expected to have the strongest average growth during 2014-2017 are Construction (10.0 percent); Professional and Business Services (4.3 percent); Trade, Transportation & Utilities (4.0 percent); Education & Health Services (2.3 percent); and Leisure & Hospitality (1.8 percent).
  • Housing starts jumped in 2013.  Total starts will be more than 108,000 in 2014, just under 144,000 in 2015, hit 161,600 in 2016, and 165,500 in 2017. This growth in residential activity will catalyze growth in the commercial sector, both pushing employment growth in the construction sector into double digits.
  • Real personal income growth for 2013 slowed to 1.8 percent.  From 2014-2017 real personal income growth will accelerate steadily and average 4.1percent, with 2014 growth at 3.6 percent that will rise to 4.6 percent in 2017.
  • Low inventories and rising house prices have triggered a surge in home construction. Housing starts will average 32.5 percent growth during 2014-2017. The most rapid growth will be in 2014 and 2015.
  • Retail sales will grow at an average pace of 4.4 percent during 2014-2017.
  • Snaith’s forecast offers predictions through 2017 for Florida and its 12 metropolitan regions. Those areas are Orlando, Daytona Beach-Deltona, Gainesville, Ocala, Lakeland, Palm Bay-Melbourne, Pensacola, Miami, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Tampa Bay and Naples..

    For the complete report click here.

    Snaith is a national expert in economics, forecasting, market sizing and economic analysis who authors quarterly reports about the state of the economy. Bloomberg News has named Snaith as one of the country’s most accurate forecasters for his predictions about the Federal Reserve’s benchmark interest rate, the Federal Funds rate.

    Snaith also is a member of several national forecasting panels, including The Wall Street Journal Economic Forecasting Survey, CNNMoney.com’s survey of leading economists, the Associated Press Economy Survey, the National Association of Business Economics Quarterly Outlook Survey Panel, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Survey of Professional Forecasters, the Livingston Survey, Bloomberg U.S. Economic Indicator Survey, Reuters U.S. Economy Survey, and USA Today Economic Survey Panel.

    The Institute for Economic Competitiveness strives to provide complete, accurate and timely national, state and regional forecasts and economic analyses. Through these analyses, the institute provides valuable resources to the public and private sectors for informed decision-making.