Florida leads the nation
If tourism is one of the pillars upon which Florida’s economy rests and if tourism is a major source of employment the good news is that preliminary estimates of visitors to Florida show an estimated 23.8 million people visited the Sunshine State in the first quarter (January, February and March) of 2008. This represents an increase in visitation of 3.4% as compared to the same period in 2007. Also, the percentage of Florida residents who reported taking a pleasure trip was up 9.2% during the first quarter. Of those, the percentage who vacationed in Florida increased by 10.5 percentage points, which represents an increase of an estimated 1.2 million in-state person-trips.
So why is it that in April Florida led the nation for the largest month-over-month drop in employment levels? According to the St. Petersburg Times from March to April, the state lost 25,300 jobs. Michigan, meanwhile, shed 18,600 positions over the month. Florida’s dubious honor emerged from state and federal employment reports issued Friday. They showed that while the unemployment rate remained level in Florida from March to April, at 4.9%, that’s only part of the story. Month-over-month job loss is another indicator of a state economy’s health or lack thereof. In retrospect, signs of trouble had been brewing for a while: Florida actually had the highest number of month-over-month job losses five times since January 2007. But those deficiencies were often not immediately visible because of the sampling method of employers used to derive the monthly figures.