Dear Friend of the Lutgert College of Business,
It is my pleasure to provide you the June 2015 Southwest Florida Regional Economic Indicators Report. This report is provided by the Regional Economic Research Institute of the Lutgert College of Business at Florida Gulf Coast University.
A revised first quarter real GDP estimate indicated U.S. economic output fell 0.7 percent, and although there are concerns about data collection problems resulting in weaker-than-average first quarter measures for GDP in recent years, the general consensus is that the higher-than-expected trade deficit contributed to the revision. In the third and fourth quarters of 2014, GDP increased 5.0 and 2.2 percent, respectively. In contrast, the Southwest Florida economy continued to exhibit strong growth in June compared to last year. In general, the regional economic data suggest an economy still in a strong recovery mode as we move into a slower summer season.
While the second quarter GDP figures for 2015 are expected to show improvement, the national economy continues to exhibit conflicting signals, with strong monthly jobs reports and wage pressure associated with the boom phase of the business cycle, coupled with weak manufacturing output. Meanwhile, statements emanating from the recent Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee meeting (see below) reiterated its intention to begin a slow, calculated process to raise short-term rates and inch away from the zero-bound interest rate policy it has maintained since December 2008.
Seasonally-adjusted regional taxable sales for March 2015 were up 10 percent over March 2014. Seasonally-adjusted tourist tax revenues were up nine percent for the region encompassing Collier, Lee, and Charlotte counties. April 2015 passenger activity for the three Southwest Florida airports was four percent higher than the April 2014 figure. Continuing the positive trend, Realtor® sales of existing single-family homes for the three coastal counties in May 2015 were up two percent over May 2014, along with substantial increases in median prices.
The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for the five-county region was 5.6 percent in May 2015 compared to 6.4 percent a year earlier, while Florida’s unemployment rate amounted to 5.7 percent in May 2015, down from 6.3 percent in May 2014. The national unemployment rate in May 2015 was 5.5 percent, down from 6.3 percent in May 2014. The May 2015 national, state, and regional unemployment rates were each 0.1 points higher than the previous month. The number of long-term unemployed in the U.S. (those jobless for 27 weeks or longer) was 2.5 million in May 2015, which is a 25.3 percent decrease from May 2014 and 28.6 percent of all unemployed.
The May Bureau of Labor Statistics Establishment Survey showed that national nonfarm payroll employment increased by 280,000 for the month, an increase of 59,000 from April. Employment growth nationally has averaged 251,000 per month over the last 12 months.
Our sincere thanks to the individuals and organizations who contribute to this report. These include the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, the Economic Development Organizations of Charlotte, Collier, and Lee Counties, the Convention and Visitors Bureaus of Collier and Lee Counties, the regional airport authorities, the Realtors® of Lee and Collier County, the University of Florida Survey Research Center, and the county and city permit offices.
Christopher Westley, Ph.D.
Director, Regional Economic Research Institute
and Professor of Economics
Lutgert College of Business
Florida Gulf Coast University
Office: (239) 590-7090
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