SOURCE: BMO Harris Bank

BMO Harris Bank

February 04, 2014 08:02 ET

BMO Economics: Housing Rebound Continues to Lead Florida's Recovery

SARASOTA, FL--(Marketwired - Feb 4, 2014) -

  • Economic recovery continues, a healing housing market leading the charge
  • State unemployment rate has fallen more than 1.5 percentage points in the past year
  • Housing inventory significantly down, housing starts up more than 30 percent from prior year

Florida's employment market continues to recover at a strong pace, well ahead of the improvement seen nationally. The state is poised to see above-average growth over the next two years as the housing market continues to recover, according to the bi-annual U.S. State Monitor Report by BMO Economics.

The state's GDP growth is expected to jump to 3 percent this year, led by stronger construction activity and continued growth in tourism, up from 1.6 percent in 2013.

"A number of key improvements have come together to bolster Florida's economic recovery which is in stark contrast to where we were a few years ago," commented Dave Maraman, Regional President, Florida, BMO Harris Bank. "We know that getting people employed is an important component to any state's economic success."

Florida's improved job growth, up 2.6 percent year-over-year in December, is well above the national gain of 1.7 percent during the same period. The decline in nonfarm payrolls, which hit the state particularly hard during the recession, has stopped and payrolls have recovered more than half of their drop. With strong job growth, the unemployment rate fell an impressive 1.7 percentage points in December, down to 6.2 percent. Florida's rate now sits 0.5 percentage points below the national average, after rising as much as 1.8 percentage points above that average.

"Tourism-related service industries such as retail, arts and entertainment, accommodations and food have roared back to record levels," noted Robert Kavcic, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets. "However, the same can't be said yet for construction employment, which still sits at a fraction of its pre-recession self."

Housing remains the big story in the Sunshine state, and the major driver of the economic turnaround.

"Miami and Tampa have bounced back 15 percent in the past year, driven by improved confidence and a significant decrease in the housing inventory -- 8.6 months' worth of supply, in Miami, in the third quarter last year compares to greater than 60 at the depths of the downturn. Although foreclosures and housing vacancies are still relatively high they are falling fast," Mr. Kavcic added.

Outward migration has leveled off and population growth has picked up at a 1.4 percent year-over-year pace, still well below pre-recession levels of more than 2 percent. The first half of 2013 saw its best visitor traffic since 2007, up a strong 6.9 percent year-over-year.

To view the full report visit: www.bmocm.com/economics

About BMO Harris Bank
BMO Harris Bank provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through more than 600 branches and approximately 1,300 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Arizona and Florida. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the U.S. For more information about BMO Harris Bank, go to the company fact sheet. Banking products and services are provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. and are subject to bank or credit approval. BMO Harris Bank® is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with approximately 1,600 branches, and CDN $537 billion in assets (as of October 31, 2013).

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