County data

Pasco is still mostly white, but more Hispanic

When Rosie Paulsen helped found Pasco County's first Hispanic chamber of commerce in January, the group had just a handful of members. Now it has 50.

"That right there is telling you the need is big," said Paulsen, an Ecuador-born businesswoman who runs an insurance agency in Wesley Chapel.

Paulsen's experience reflects the tremendous growth Pasco's Hispanics and racial minorities have seen in the decade since the 2000 census – growth that shows up in the county's schools, ballfields and suburban cul-de-sacs.

Borrowers beware: Firms profit off defaults

Joshua Rand is the muscle. Not in a busting-skulls, Tony Soprano kind of way.

But he does seek to collect, and sometimes even buys, the debt left by delinquent homeowners who walk away from their mortgages - the same borrowers who often assume that a foreclosure or short sale wipes out their loan balance, ending their liability.

A principal in the New York-based Deficiency Judgment Recovery Network, Rand said he has "hundreds, maybe thousands" of home loans gone sour in Florida that his company, formed in late 2009, is working to collect balances from.

Sales of newly constructed homes up in April

Sales of newly constructed homes were better than expected in April, increasing nearly 15 percent nationally over a robust March, and leaving a dearth of inventory not seen since 1968.

In the south, a region that includes Florida and 16 other states, new home sales increased nearly 11 percent over March and 38 percent compared to April 2009, according to a monthly Commerce department report released Wednesday.

Nationally, the seasonally adjusted annual sales pace hit 504,000 in April. In the South, it was 278,000.

State reports drop in unemployment

Pinellas County's unemployment rate for April is down nearly a full percentage point, according to the latest figures from the Florida Agency of Workforce Innovation.

April's rate was 11.5 percent, compared to March when 12.4 percent of the county's labor force was looking for a job.

In April, 51,629 of the county's labor force of 447,989 were looking for a job. In March, 55,693 out of a labor force of 450,195 were unemployed.

Some snowbirds haven't yet flown the coop

Sitting outside his lakefront mobile home, Lake County snowbird Dick Risch relishes the peacefulness around him.

Until recently, Risch's winter community was packed with seasonal residents. But while most part-time residents already have left, unusually chilly temperatures up North kept some snowbirds like Risch, 68, from joining the flock just yet.

For businesses that thrive on the spending of seasonal residents, these snowbird stragglers seeking to stay warm a bit longer are a welcome economic bonus.

Florida unemployment falls for first time in four years

For the first time since February 2006, Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has fallen. April unemployment slipped to 12 percent from March’s revised rate of 12.3 percent.

This represents 1,113,000 jobless out of a labor force of 9,282,000, according to the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation.

Local economy must be improving - just look at the trash pile

The public is hit daily with an almost dizzying array of statistics designed to measure the nation's economic health. Stock market indices, interest and inflation rates, jobless claims, housing starts and sales, consumer spending and fluctuations in the gross domestic product are just a few that are supposed to tell us whether we are better — or worse — off today than yesterday.

But Ken Whitehead, director of Marion County's Solid Waste department, has his own barometer: trash.

Census estimates reveal growth dynamic in Sumter

THE VILLAGES — Third time was the charm for Fritz and Tina Masur.

Little that they experienced as age-restricted homeowners in Arizona or Illinois compares with the quality of life they found during the past year in The Villages.

The experiences of the Village of Hemingway couple also provide a glimpse into the dynamics of new population estimates that ranked Sumter County last year — largely fueled by growth in The Villages — as the state’s second-fastest growing county in terms of percentage increase.

Bay County continues to grow despite recession

PANAMA CITY — Bay County’s population crept up last year despite the worst recession in decades, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released this week.

“The growing population areas are the ones who tend to attract new jobs,” said Janet Watermeier, county Economic Development Alliance executive director. “I believe this is our decade.”

Orlando metro area grew a bit more crowded last year, despite recession

If not for babies and immigrants, Metro Orlando would be shrinking. The latest U.S. Census estimates show that the growth of Orlando's families, together with its continued appeal to people from other countries, narrowly offset the loss of residents who left the state because of the recession.

The four-county metropolitan area grew an anemic 1 percent in 2009, adding 21,198 people. Two-thirds of the increase was the result of having nearly twice as many births than deaths.

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