Florida continues to see job growth despite Hurricane Ian, recession fears

'I think Florida is in as good of a position as we could possibly be,' James Heckman with Florida DEO says
Posted at 7:14 PM, Nov 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-18 19:14:14-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida officials offered a solid October jobs report Friday despite a hurricane, high inflation and the possibility of a recession.

Experts said the state is on firm footing if economic fortunes turn.

Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity touted a 30th consecutive month of job creation in their regular press conference. Officials said the labor force grew by 36,000, and Florida's private sector added 35,000 jobs.

Leisure and hospitality led the private sector gains with about 14,100 new jobs. Education and health services followed, 8,200 new jobs, then trade, transport and utilities were roughly the same.

The growth came despite Hurricane Ian devastating some parts of Southwest Florida in late September. The governor took note of that in a statement issued Friday morning.

"Florida's economic resiliency is unmatched in the country. No other state could withstand the direct impact of a Category 4 hurricane and continue to grow jobs in the same month," Gov. Ron DeSantis said in the statement. "We have made record investments in our infrastructure and workforce while building a record budget surplus and providing record tax reduction for Floridians."

DEO officials were also confident in Florida's strength, despite the possibility of a national recession. Even though state unemployment ticked up slightly — +.2% to 2.7% in October — they said many were leaving jobs voluntarily to find better ones.

"Which indicate signs of a really healthy, a really active labor market," James Heckman, DEO Workforce Statistics Bureau Chief said. "I think Florida is in as good of a position as we could possibly be."

Recession fears continue to loom across the country. Many think the Fed will raise lending rates for a seventh time this year when meeting in December in an attempt to tame inflation. The increase is expected to be lower than previous increases, but it is still elevating concerns.

"Recovering from a global pandemic has been more challenging than I think anyone .... may have anticipated," Heather Boushey with the White House Council of Economic Advisers said.

Boushey said the Biden administration remained optimistic it could avoid a major downturn. The economy is in good shape, she said, with strong national job creation and families having a bit of of savings.

"We're in a really good position right now," Boushey said. "That gives us confidence that we will, as you say, stick the landing."

Back here in Florida, another feather in the state's economic cap is that high levels of tourism continue. It's helped Florida exceed revenue projections and added to a budget surplus. But a recession could hit the state harder than most as Florida relies on sales tax dollars to pay its bills.