Dear Friend of the Lutgert College of Business,
It is my pleasure to provide you the October 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.
The Southwest Florida economy continued to exhibit strong growth, with the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for the five-county region registering at 5.2 percent for September—a marked improvement over the measure of 6.0 for September 2014. Similar patterns were observed for the state of Florida. Seasonally-adjusted regional taxable sales were up 9 percent in July 2015 versus July 2014. Seasonally-adjusted tourist tax revenues for August 2015 were down 1 percent for the region encompassing Collier, Lee, and Charlotte counties. August 2015 passenger activity for the three Southwest Florida airports was 5 percent higher than the August 2014 figure, fueled partly by the 23rd consecutive record month at Punta Gorda Airport.
For the 12-month period ending in September 2015, the state of Florida added 235,700 jobs—a 3 percent increase. For some perspective, this number is second only to California’s, which recorded 444,300 new jobs during the same period, and exceeded that of Texas, which recorded 224,800 new jobs. However, Florida’s month-to-month job gain was quite low at 2,100, well below Texas’ measure of 26,600 and even Georgia’s 9,100.
The Leisure and Hospitality sector led the state with 58,100 jobs (an increase of 4.3 percent), followed by Education and Health Services with 50,200 jobs (an increase of 4.3 percent) and Trade, Transportation, and Utilities with 44,500 jobs (an increase of 2.7 percent). However, some of the traditionally higher-paying job sectors shrank in September compared to August, including Government, Professional and Business Services, Education and Health Services, Manufacturing, and Information. This state-level data, collected by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, is seasonally adjusted.
Construction emerged as Florida’s bright spot in September, according to a report issued by the Associated General Contractors of America (a trade group) on October 20th. Florida led the nation in construction jobs in September, adding 3,200 jobs for the month, exceeding Louisiana (3,100 jobs), New Jersey (2,800), and Texas (2,800). The report said that labor shortages hamper this industry which, if they persist, should contribute to upward pressures on construction wages over time.
The Cape Coral-Fort Myers metropolitan area recorded an employment increase of 5,300 in September 2015 compared to September 2014, or 2.3 percent. The Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island metropolitan area reported an employment increase of 4,200, or 3.3 percent. The Punta Gorda metropolitan area reported an employment increase of 1,400, or 3.0 percent. However, all three metropolitan areas recorded monthly declines in their labor forces, with 1,832 leaving the labor force in Cape Coral-Fort Myers, 68 in Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, and 116 in Punta Gorda.
Please see the rest of the report for more detail.
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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October 2015 Southwest Florida Regional Economic Indicators Report.pdf