Against the backdrop of a contentious debate raging within the Florida Legislature over the state's labor market, recent findings from state economists paint a surprisingly optimistic picture of increased wages for Florida workers post-COVID-19. Long grappling with a substantial wage gap compared to the national average, Florida, heavily dependent on tourism and hospitality, is turning a corner.
The latest report from the Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR)* reveals a shrinking wage gap, with Florida wages now at 91.1% of the national average, the highest in two decades. Meanwhile, the EDR report foresees a continued wage rise, citing an anticipated annual growth of 3.3% or more.
Bills are in motion to loosen restrictions on teenage work hours, including how long and when teenagers can work, and allow some teenagers to work on residential construction projects. In this scenario, personal opinions on the sustainability of this positive trend may vary. The Legislature's focus on relaxing regulations could be either fostering job opportunities for teenagers or compromising their well-being.
The economic landscape further showcases a decline in unemployment, averaging 2.7% over the 2022-23 fiscal year, a noteworthy achievement despite predictions of a gradual uptick to 4.3% in the 2026-27 fiscal year.
The EDR's optimistic forecast of a 6.3% increase in personal income this fiscal year and a 6.4% increase in 2024-2025 may spark optimism. Still, it could also raise concerns about income inequality and affordability. Anticipated Mortgage Interest Rate Stability in Late 2024: Experiencing a peak at 7.79% in October 2023, the highest in over two decades, mortgage rates saw a notable decline to 7.35% in November. Concurrently, the annual inflation rate also eased, dropping from 3.7% to 3.2%. Despite these fluctuations, projections suggest that mortgage rates will likely persist slightly above the 6% mark, but there is optimism that they will stabilize during the second half of the year.
Florida's employment landscape remains robust, boasting an impressive 2.8% unemployment rate. Notably, the state's private sector employment expanded by 2.5% in September 2023, outpacing the national average growth of 2.0%. Against this backdrop,
Florida's average cost of living is $50,000, contributing to the overall economic picture. Moreover, the state's median household income registers a substantial $73,000, showcasing a favorable balance between income and living expenses. Rapid economic growth in many areas of Florida's economy and high population growth fuel the prediction that Florida will remain on top of the country in job growth.