Southwest Florida Regional Report Points to a Strong Economy

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Florida Gulf Coast University’s Southwest Florida Regional Economic Indicators report for February 2017 indicates the Southwest Florida regional economy remained strong through January. Positive trends noted in the report included a three percent increase in seasonally-adjusted regional taxable sales from the prior year and a three percent increase in total airline passenger activity.

The seasonally-adjusted regional unemployment rate for the Southwest Florida five county region held at 5.0 percent in December 2016. Seasonally-adjusted employment for the region increased by 2,807 from November 2016, while the number of unemployed decreased by 147. Compared to December 2015, employment increased by 11,957 and unemployment by 551.

Additional key points from the report include:

  • A 6-percent decrease in single-family home sales by Realtors® in December 2016 compared to December 2015, and a 7-percent decrease for the full year.
  • December-to-December increases in Consumer Price Indices exceeded 2 percent for the first time since 2011.
  • Single-family building permits were down 27 percent in the coastal counties from December 2015 to December 2016, however Hendry County issued 54 permits in 2016, which is three times the total recorded for all of 2015.
  • A month-to-month increase of 0.5 points in the Florida Consumer Sentiment Index for January 2017, to 97.8, while the national Index of Consumer Sentiment reached its highest level since February 2004.

The national Index of Consumer Sentiment rose 0.3 points to 98.5 from December 2016 to January 2017, maintaining a significant upward movement starting in October. The January number was also 6.5 points higher than the number recorded in January 2016. The January 27, 2017 issue of Survey of Consumers noted that, “Consumers expressed a higher level of confidence January than any other time in the last dozen years. The post-election surge in confidence was driven by a more optimistic outlook for the economy and job growth during the year ahead as well as more favorable economic prospects over the next five years.”

The Florida Consumer Sentiment Index continued its upward trend, increasing 0.5 points to 97.8 in January 2017 compared to the prior month. The January 2017 number was also 5.4 points higher than the 92.4 recorded for January 2016, marking the highest recording of the index for the state since March 2002. “Perceptions of current conditions improved among Floridians in the last month as a result of the positive economic picture that prevailed in the state during the last year,” Hector H. Sandoval, Director of the Economic Analysis Program at University of Florida BEBR said in the January 31, 2017 issue of Florida Consumer Sentiment Index. “Floridians are optimistic about their own finances. The recent surge in the level of confidence comes from perceptions and expectations about Floridians’ individual financial situations.”