In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the recent action by Congress to allow the expiration of benefits for over one million long-term unemployed Americans.
“Of course that’s an enormously difficult situation for individuals and families,” says Harper. From a state perspective, he says the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is continuing to work out problems with its new Reemployment Assistance system, CONNECT, designed in partnership with Deloitte. CONNECT launched in the fall of 2013. According to Harper, the unemployment rate in Florida continues to fall. But, he adds that’s partly because many long-term unemployed individuals have stopped looking for work and are dropping out of the labor force.
Also, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is calling on Congress to take action sooner than anticipated on raising the nation’s debt ceiling to avoid any risk of a U.S. default, saying the crunch could come by the end of next month. Harper expects lawmakers to reach a compromise deal, without much of a political fight until closer to this year’s election.
According to RealtyTrack, total foreclosure filings for 2013 hit their lowest level since 2007. More than one million properties were reported to be in foreclosure, a 26% reduction from 2012. Harper notes that the number of foreclosures in Florida is slower to decline due to the fact that the process has to go through the court system. But, he says the housing market appears to be rising again.
Finally, Harper weighs in on a reported 8% increase in total passengers through Pensacola International Airport in December, compared to the same month in 2012.
Dr. Rick Harper is Director of the University of West Florida Office of Economic Development and Engagement. He’s currently serving as Senior Economic Policy Advisor to the Florida Senate. http://www.uwf.edu/oede/, firstname.lastname@example.org