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Pasco Press

Tax watchdog group says 2013 was a good economic year


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Florida TaxWatch, the business-backed public policy group, issued a glowing commentary last month on statewide employment for 2013.

TaxWatch reports that Florida’s economy shows continued job growth, with an estimated 192,900 jobs created during 2013. All of the major private sector categories experienced job gains, with only Total Government Employment experiencing losses, led by a decrease in federal government jobs.

The 2013 jobs report shows improvements from 2012, when in these same categories 135,400 jobs were created in Florida. This is more than a 42-percent net job increase over the 2012 numbers, TaxWatch reported.

Further, Florida’s unemployment rate, 6.2 percent, remains lower than the national rate, 6.7 percent. More significantly, Florida experienced the second-largest yearly percentage increase in nonfarm employment in the nation, 2.6 percent, trailing only oil-rich North Dakota, with a 4-percent increase, and 2013 showed the highest number of private, nonfarm jobs created in Florida since 2005.

Florida is also the state with the largest per-capita increase in jobs when compared to the three other most-populated states in the nation — California, Texas and New York.

The sector with the largest estimated job gains in Florida was retail trade, followed by the professional and business services and construction categories.

With an estimated 28,800 construction jobs created, Florida experienced the second-largest gain in construction jobs in the nation, only 100 jobs fewer than leader California.

Heavy and civil engineering construction experienced the highest growth, 12.9 percent, followed by specialty trade contractors, 8.7 percent.

The retail sector has improved substantially, moving from the third-highest creator of jobs in 2012 to the top position during 2013, reflected by increases in consumer confidence. Florida’s Consumer Sentiment Index, published by the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Florida, shows an increase of 3 percentage points between January 2013, when the reading was 75, and January 2014, at 78.

Building materials, garden equipment and supplies dealers experienced a 10-percent growth in jobs, and food and beverages retailers experienced an 8.9-percent growth. These two subcategories had the largest growth in the retail sector.

Last year’s second-highest producer of net new jobs, professional and business services, showed an increase of 37,400 jobs in 2013. Professional, scientific and technical services jobs showed a 4-percent increase.

Management of companies and enterprises showed a 0.6-percent increase, and there was a 3.5-percent increase in administrative and support, waste management and remediation jobs.

“Looking at potential job growth in 2014, Florida’s economy is expected to continue to produce jobs in sectors important in diversifying the economy and creating high-wage jobs,” the report predicted.

“Florida’s key investments in infrastructure, led by improvement in our ports and connected parts of the logistics infrastructure will pay dividends. These investments, along with continued recruitment of companies to Florida as well as the expansion of Florida’s existing companies will continue to produce jobs that will provide good incomes for Florida families, and keep graduates of Florida colleges and universities in our state,” TaxWatch concluded.

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