Florida’s resurgent economy
To the editor:
This October will mark three years since Gov. Scott and the Legislature formed the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to streamline and coordinate the state’s economic, labor force, and community development policies and programs. One of our jobs at the department is to monitor and report on the health of the Sunshine State’s economy-a topic of importance to every Florida family and business.
The Great Recession hit Florida hard. Our unemployment rate skyrocketed to 11.4 percent, we lost 830,000 private?sector jobs, job demand plummeted by 40 percent, tourism faltered, our historic net inflow of new residents dried up, our GDP declined by a whopping 6 percent in 2009, our housing market collapsed, and consumer confidence tanked.
In the wake of this recession, the Scott Administration, from day one, has worked hard to promote policies that would reverse the state’s negative trajectory and jumpstart the economy. We started from a simple premise: lasting prosperity arises when businesses and families live and work in an environment that promotes and rewards hard work, innovation, and investment of time and resources. That’s why the Scott
Administration has supported tax cuts and the elimination of unnecessary regulation. That’s why state agencies now treat families and businesses as partners rather than as adversaries. That’s why we’ve invested record amounts in infrastructure, education, and workforce training.
The result? Over the last few years, Florida has had a remarkable economic turnaround that has defied predictions. Our unemployment rate has fallen nearly five points, our private?sector has added 643,100 jobs, our GDP is growing again, our job demand is at pre?recession levels, tourism is setting records, and our housing market is recovering. Today, businesses and families are again making the choice to move to Florida. They again see Florida as an opportunity economy. Our labor force is growing and consumer confidence is at its highest level in years. And on many of these measures, our recovery is outpacing the nation’s. Today, Florida’s families have pathways to prosperity that were unthinkable just a few years ago.
If there was a silver lining to the Great Recession it appears in this: we now see 50 different states pursuing economic recovery through different policies. Lessons can be learned from the outcomes. Those states that increased taxes, increased regulation, and increased debt (think New York and Illinois) are falling behind. Those states that cut taxes, streamlined regulation, and made smart budget choices are leading the recovery (think Florida and Texas). The lesson? Policy matters. Families and businesses respond to incentives created by policy choices. Choose to punish hard work and production and you get less of them. Choose to reward hard work and production and you get more of them. If we stay the course in Florida, our economy will continue to grow, our workforce will find ever more opportunities, and Florida will be the best place to live, work, play, and raise a family.
Executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity