BEBR in the news

UF survey: Florida Consumer Sentiment surges upward in January

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Consumer Sentiment among Floridians surged in January, up seven points to 77 from a revised December reading of 70, marking a steady rise in optimism, according to a University of Florida survey.

Four of the five categories measured by the survey reveal increased optimism. For instance, the overall perception among survey takers that they are better off financially than they were a year ago rose four points to 60, the highest figure since March 2008 when the U.S. economy began to falter. Expectations that their personal finances will improve by this time next year also rose eight points to 86.

In addition, confidence in the nation’s economy over the next year went up dramatically by 14 points to 74. Trust in the U.S. economy over the next five years was upbeat, too, moving 10 points to 83. These figures parallel results of a University of Michigan study that show Consumer Sentiment across the nation shot up from 69.9 in December to 75 in January.

Only when it came to deciding if the present is a good time to buy big-ticket items such as an automobile or a refrigerator, did confidence among respondents sag, falling four points to 81.

“Consumer Sentiment in Florida is now back to the level it was in January 2011,” said Chris McCarty, director of UF’s Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research. “We are beginning the year with the same pattern as last year where there were relatively steady increases in confidence from the end of the summer with a surge to 77 in January 2011. This was followed by seven months of decline with the low of 61 in August 2011 when Congress debated the debt ceiling.”

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UF survey: Florida Consumer Sentiment surges upward in January - University of Florida News - January 31, 2012

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Consumer Sentiment surges in Florida - Miami Herald - January 31, 2012

Floridians' Consumer Sentiment jumps in January - South Florida Sun Sentinel - January 31, 2012

Florida consumers gain confidence; national reading slumps - Herald-Tribune - January 31, 2012

Florida Consumer Sentiment soars in January - Tampa Bay Times - February 1, 2012

Case-Shiller: No bottom for housing in South Florida - Miami Herald - February 1, 2012

Employment Gains Help Grow Florida's Consumer Sentiment - Sunshine State News - February 1, 2012

UF: Buyer confidence “surges” - Gulf Coast Business Review - February 1, 2012


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Housing still a dark cloud in South Florida’s economic future

How predictable: Housing remains the biggest question mark looming over South Florida’s economic future.As economists mapped out their forecasts for 2012, they generally see the year shaping up as another 12 months of slow recovery. Hiring should expand a little bit more than it did in 2011, consumers should continue opening their wallets, and tourism should remain a bright spot. “For the first time in a few years, I feel some rays of optimism are hitting the landscape,’’ said Raul Valdes-Fauli, president of Professional Bank, a small community bank in Coral Gables. “For the last few years, I have been very down on things.” But housing prices seem likely to remain depressed. A forecast by Moody’s calls for a 12 percent drop in South Florida real estate values during 2012, as banks push a wave of foreclosed homes onto an already depressed market. Other industry watchers see the prediction as too grim, but it does capture a consensus that foreclosed homes will be an even bigger drag on the real estate recovery than they were in 2011.

Florida’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research expects per-capita income to grow 1.5 percent statewide in 2012, thanks in part to a 3.4 percent gain in overall wages. Consumers remained resilient in 2011, and an autumn pickup in the University of Florida’s statewide confidence index is expected to continue into 2012. “Consumers, both nationally and in Florida, sort of defy logic,’’ said Chris McCarty, head of UF’s survey bureau. “They are still doing some spending.”

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Housing still a dark cloud in South Florida’s economic future - Miami Herald - December 31, 2011


Employment up in Marion

Fourteen of Florida's 22 markets, including Ocala, added new jobs over the past year, state figures show. Nearly half of the jobs went to three areas: Tampa-St. Petersburg added 26,900 jobs; Miami picked up 18,700; and Jacksonville increased by 8,300 jobs.

Marion County's employment gain was much more modest: a net 1,300 jobs between December 2010 and November 2011, the state records indicate. While that's just a fraction of employment growth other areas have experienced in the past year or so, local observers say the figure is about right, given the local economy's condition. Florida has added 120,000 jobs just between January and November of this year, making the Sunshine State one of America's fastest-growing employment markets.

Gov. Rick Scott, in a recent interview with the Star-Banner's Tallahassee bureau, asserted that Florida is a place where "people believe ... jobs are going to grow."

Pete Tesch, president and CEO of the Ocala-Marion County Economic Development Corp., said the jobs total was about right, keeping pace with what some Florida economists had predicted for Ocala.

"We're pretty much on track, given the economic condition. Hopefully, the bleeding has stopped," Tesch said.

Tesch said new indicators in consumer spending were hopeful. If not producing many new jobs, he noted, that should at least slow the number of layoffs.

Underscoring that point, the University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and Business Research, or BEBR, reported on Tuesday that Consumer Sentiment among Floridians had risen for the fourth consecutive month, reaching its highest level since March.

And the belief among state residents that it was a good time to purchase "major household items" was the most positive since February.

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Employment up in Marion - - December 30, 2011

UF survey: Florida Consumer Sentiment jumps in December

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Consumer Sentiment among Floridians rose three points to 69 in December, reflecting a cautious optimism in the economy, according to a recent University of Florida survey. Though the latest figure is only one point below the level set in December 2010, it also marks the highest rank in the past nine months.

The index used by UF researchers in the survey is benchmarked to 1966, which means a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence for that year. The lowest index possible is a 2; the highest is 150.

Consumer Sentiment in December shot up in four of the five indexes used by survey takers, and declined in only one. The index that reveals whether Floridians think their personal finances have improved from a year ago rose one point to 53. Another showed their overall expectations in the soundness of the U.S. economy jumped six points to 59. Confidence in the economy’s performance over the next five years also rose — this time three points to 71. Finally, the overall perception of survey takers that the present is a good time to buy “big ticket” items, such as washing machines and laptops — went up sharply by seven points to 85.

The only index to show dropping confidence was an expectation of a drop in personal finances a year from now, declining two points to 78.

Taken as a whole, the UF survey reflects a changing mood that matches growing confidence across the nation, said Chris McCarty, director of UF’s Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research. In addition, he added, there are factors in the Florida economy that were interpreted as positive by both younger and older respondents. Men were more positive than women by a margin of 71 points to 67.

“Floridians are most likely optimistic about continued improvement in the employment situation,” McCarty said. The decline in unemployment in November was .4 percent to 10 percent. The drop marked the first time in many months that economic sectors other than tourism led the way in employment increases. McCarty noted that employers in trade, transportation and utilities employed 34,800 more workers from October to November. However, he cautioned that many of these new jobs were in retail trade and may only reflect holiday seasonal hiring, which could disappear in early 2012.

McCarty also cited several other reasons for the change in mood. Retailers are offering big seasonal discounts to shoppers and mortgage interest rates are low. Housing prices may have “bottomed out” for a while, he said, hovering about around $130,100 for a single-family home. Gas prices are down, too. A gallon cost about 15 cents less than it did in November, though prices are expected to rise in 2012.

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UF survey: Florida Consumer Sentiment jumps in December -  University of Florida News - December 27, 2011

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Consumer Sentiment in Florida jumps to a 9-month high - Sun-Sentinel - December 27, 2011

Survey of Consumer Sentiment shows Floridians ‘modestly upbeat' - - December 27, 2011

Consumer Sentiment jumps in December - Miami Herald - December 27, 2011

Oddly, consumers feeling better - Miami Herald - December 28, 2011

UF: Florida Consumers Look to 2012 with Some Optimism - Sunshine State News - December 29, 2011


The Sun Belt's Comeback

Along with the oft-pronounced, desperately wished for death of the suburbs, no demographic narrative thrills the mainstream news media more than the decline of the Sun Belt, the country’s southern rim extending from the Carolinas to California. Since the housing bubble collapse in 2007, commentators have heralded “the end of the Sun Belt boom.”

Yet this assertion is largely exaggerated, particularly since the big brass buckle in the middle of the Sun Belt, Texas, has thrived throughout the recession. California, of course, has done far worse, but its slow population growth and harsh regulatory environment align it more with the Northeast than with its sunny neighbors.

Moreover, the Sun Belt is poised for a recovery, according to the most recent economic and demographic data. Even such hard-hit states as Arizona and most impressively Arizona appear to be making an unexpected, and largely unheralded, recovery.

Take Florida. The Sunshine State may have experienced rapid population loss during 2008 and 2009, but the just-released 2011 Census estimates show a remarkable turnaround, with the state adding 119,000 domestic migrants last year. This may be less than half the gains in 2004 and 2005, when the in-migration reached nearly 250,000, but it is close to levels enjoyed a decade ago.

The big winners in terms of growth were in the South, with Texas, Florida and North Carolina as the leading in-migration states. Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia also ranked in the top 10. Overall, the Southern states reaped 95% of the inter-regional net domestic migration (people moving from one state to another). Arizona, another state widely written off, enjoyed an 11th place finish, with a net gain over 13,000.

Looking forward, some of the “bubble states” appear to be taking a lesson from Texas and are reconsidering their former growth formula, which relied far too much on tourism, retirees and housing construction. “We know the business model has to change from just tourism and retirees,” notes Chris McCarty, director of the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Florida. “We need to make a modification in our approach and now there’s a desire to do something about it.”

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The Sun Belt's Comeback - Forbes - December 22, 2011

USA sees 'flattest' growth in population since 1940s

The recession may be officially over, but its impact continues to reverberate as the nation experiences its most sluggish population growth since the 1940s.

The U.S. population grew 0.7% to 311.6 million in the year that ended July 1, even slower than at the height of the recession when the population grew 0.9%, according to new Census estimates. "The nation's overall growth rate is now at its lowest point since before the Baby Boom,'' Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said.

Many Sun Belt states that were hit hard by the housing collapse have not regained their footing — except for Florida, which is showing glimmers of a recovery. For the first time since the mid-2000s, the state is gaining more people from other states than it is losing. The state grew 1.2% to 19.1 million. "Florida is growing as much as it had in 2005-06," said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.

The Census estimates are more than double what Florida demographers had estimated, based on electrical hook-ups. "It could be that people are filling up vacant units that had electric hook-ups already," said Scott Cody, demographer with the University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

The discrepancy could also mean that more people are living under one roof and therefore not in need of new power connections. "It could be that people come down and are moving in to an existing household," Cody said.

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USA sees 'flattest' growth in population since 1940s - USA Today - December 21, 2011

Census shows fewer seniors in some South Florida cities

South Florida, which 40 years ago gave birth to senior citizen icons such as the early bird special and condo commando, is a retirement mecca no more, according to new Census statistics released Wednesday.

Broward County lost 4 percent of its 65-plus population between 2000 and 2010, the Census reported, while Palm Beach County gained a modest 9 percent.

"As we have become a congested urban environment, we have become less attractive to retirees," said Dick Ogburn, an analyst with the South Florida Regional Planning Council.

The Sunshine State still has appeal, however, retaining the highest percentage of senior residents in the country, with 17.3 percent older than age 65 in 2010.

Fourteen Broward cities lost a total of 11,685 senior residents in the past decade, led by Hallandale Beach with a 24 percent decrease and Tamarac with 21 percent. Among cities with the largest senior populations in Palm Beach County, Boca Raton gained 19 percent in its 65-and-older residents, while Boynton Beach lost 7 percent and Delray Beach, 8 percent.

Ogburn has been predicting the shift for the past 20 years. In the previous decade, from 1990 to 2000, Palm Beach County's 65-plus population grew 25 percent while Broward's basically flatlined, with a 1.4 percent increase.

Ogburn suspects the two counties never will return to their retirement migration heydays of the 1950s through '70s, when thousands of transplants poured into newly built condo complexes each year. While nice weather and good medical care are important, retirees looking to relocate also seek affordable housing, light traffic and low crime, experts agree.

When that changes, they either stop arriving or move on to other communities that offer those amenities, said Scott Cody, demographer for the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Florida.

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Census shows fewer seniors in some South Florida cities - Sun-Sentinel - November 30, 2011

UF survey: Florida’s Consumer Sentiment stays level in November

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Consumer Sentiment Index among Floridians remained at 65 in November, a ranking that matches a revised mark set in October and is only two points higher than the record low of 59 set in June 2008.

The index used by University of Florida researchers is benchmarked to 1966, which means a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence for that year. The lowest index possible is a 2; the highest is 150.

The November survey reveals a mixture of positive and negative perceptions.

“Consumers are slightly less optimistic about current conditions than they were last month and slightly more optimistic about long run conditions,” said Chris McCarty, director of UF’s Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research, which conducted the survey.

McCarty noted that of the five categories used to measure Consumer Sentiment, two decreased, two increased and one remained unchanged, resulting in an overall mark of 65. Perceptions, for example, that compare personal finance levels with those of a year ago fell two points to 52. However, expectations that personal finances will improve a year from now went up three points to 79.

Meanwhile, respondents’ overall view that the U.S. economy will improve over the coming year fell two points to 52. However, their expectation that the economy will improve over the next five years remained unchanged at 67.

Finally, the perception that now is a good time to buy big-ticket consumer items, such as televisions and laptop computers, rose four points to 75.

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UF survey: Florida’s Consumer Sentiment stays level in November - University of Florida News - November 29, 2011

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Florida Consumer Sentiment remains low for another month - - November 29, 2011

Florida Consumer Sentiment still near record low - St. Petersburg Times - November 29, 2011

Florida confidence reverses slide but still “close” to a recession - Miami Herald - November 29, 2011

Consumer Sentiment remains low heading into holidays - The Florida Times Union - November 29, 2011

State Consumer Sentiment stuck at near-recession levels - Gainesville Sun - November 29, 2011

Consumer Sentiment unchanged in Florida - South Florida Business Journal - November 29, 2011

Consumer Sentiment in Florida remains low heading into busy shopping season - St. Augustine Record - November 30, 2011

Post-Black Friday Consumer Sentiment remains low - Sunshine State News - November 30, 2011

Fla. Consumer Sentiment drags - Gulf Coast Business Review - November 30, 2011

Florida Consumer Sentiment flat, near record lows - WUSF - December 1, 2011

Consumer Sentiment remains low in Florida - Jacksonville Business Journal - December 2, 2011

Florida Gets Bad Economic News

The unemployment rate in Florida has decreased slightly, but it is still higher than the national average, which according to the Department of Labor is 9 percent. Although Florida’s labor force increased by 14,000 from August to September, it is still down 26,000 from September of 2010. The state’s unemployment rate dropped a whopping one-tenth of 1 percent to 10.6 percent, after remaining fixed at 10.7 percent for three months. Individuals are considered unemployed after one no longer has an occupation, but is still looking for work. When people stop searching for work, for any reasons, they are no longer counted as ‘unemployed.’

Not only is Florida’s unemployment rate high, but Consumer Sentiment seems to be going down. Chris McCarty, a director of the University of Florida’s Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research said in a press release, “Consumer Sentiment continues to be in the doldrums, uncomfortably near record low levels here in Florida.” Unfortunately for Floridians, Consumer Sentiment seems unstable, despite reports of minor economic progress in certain sectors.

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Florida Gets Bad Economic News - The Epoch Times - November 21, 2011

Commercial Connection: SW Florida must pull together on the basics

The Great Recession of 2008 is officially over, according to a panel of economists from the National Bureau of Economic Research, a widely accepted arbiter of business cycles. In fact, the recession reached its "trough" (end of the decline and the subsequent beginning of the rise) in June 2009.

History and economic patterns remind us that immediately following a trough, declining periods are categorized as expansion periods in which markets level, stabilize, prepare for growth, and no doubt, create opportunity.

What's our next move to restore favorable economic conditions in Southwest Florida? Growth. A back-to-basics approach that serves to shift the focus from a cynical viewpoint of near-term economic conditions, to a cyclical one.

Southwest Florida's high quality of life, good access to excellent health care, safe, low-crime neighborhoods, and high education standards will ensure our growth and prosperity for generations to come. If we all simply work on the basics, the market will take care of itself.

Given consistent draws to Southwest Florida such as climate, lifestyle, taxing platform and health-care accessibility, migration to our area and Florida as a whole remains strong.

Gary L. Jackson, director of the Regional Economic Research Institute at Florida Gulf Coast University's Lutgert College of Business, states that, when it comes to Southwest Florida, "One of the key drivers of our economy has been population growth since it drives not only construction jobs, but new households require many other goods and services. The quality of life in Southwest Florida will continue to draw people to our area, creating economic growth and the accompanying job creation. Tourism, health care and higher education have been growth industries.

In fact, medium level population projections from the University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and Business Research estimate rises in Florida's net migration of 166,000 per year between 2010 and 2015 with high-level projection estimates of 193,000 per year between 2010 and 2015 - growth levels that are not far below the state's net migration averages per year during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, when our area saw intense growth.

On a county level, research from BEBR shows a population forecast of 2.2 percent per year from 2010 to 2030 - creating substantial opportunity for our area to benefit from increases in our resident base.

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Commercial Connection: SW Florida must pull together on the basics - - November 19, 2011. Original source article - Cushman & Wakefield