Harper Expects Good Economic Outlook For Florida

Aug 8, 2014

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the meeting of state economists this week in Tallahassee. Florida has an office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) that reports on the economy to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House.

Dr. Rick Harper
Credit University of West Florida

“EDR every year has to produce the state economic outlook.  And, one of the most important reasons to do that is because the governor as we head into autumn is going to be evaluating various proposals for state programs or tax relief and has to know the health of the economy,” says Harper.

According to Harper, there are just a few sources of revenue in Florida, including some appropriations from the federal government and various taxes. The state’s six percent sales and use tax is the biggest source of revenue, accounting for over half the income generated in state.  

Last year, Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a $77 billion budget. As his team begins budget deliberations for next fiscal year, they’re going to have to use the output from this forecast.

EDR staff updates the economic outlook a couple times a year, with a final estimate next March in advance of the next legislative session.

Harper, who has just completed a two-year term as Senior Economic Policy Advisor to the Florida Senate, expects a fairly good forecast. He notes an upswing in economic activity, as the state continues to rebound from the Great Recession at a stronger pace than other states such as Arizona, Michigan, California and Nevada that were clobbered by the economic downturn.

As an example, in June of this year, Florida recorded an increase of 3.1% in employment over June of 2013. The nation’s employment rate grew at a rate of 2.1%.

Locally, Pensacola recorded a growth rate of 1%. Harper says more on the Pensacola economy will be forthcoming as an insert in the August 24, 2014 edition of the Pensacola News Journal.

The UWF Office of Economic Development and Engagement, headed by Harper, is working with the Studer Institute on this in-depth report.  Harper says his focus was on long-term economic trends in Pensacola. For instance, he says in the past couple of generations, Pensacola has evolved from its primary focus on the military (Navy) and manufacturing. He says there are more retirees in the community, which has implications for Social Security and Medicare payments. He’ll have more on that. Also, there will be information about education and economic development.

Dr. Rick Harper is director of the University of West Florida Office of Economic Development and Engagement; rharper@uwf.edu.