I think we can all agree, the phrase “a year like no other” is getting tired. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean it is an incorrect statement, the world, and certainly Florida has undergone a transformation “like no other” over the past two-years, but it is time to look toward 2022, and instead of a return to normal, a shift to the future of Florida.
Florida is at a crossroads, and in 2022, we have to get it right. Florida has experienced a tremendous surge of momentum, but the onus is on us to understand the opportunities and challenges to better support long-term growth and success. We need to unite Florida’s business community around securing Florida’s economic health and stability on the road to 2030 and growing Florida’s economy from the 15th largest in the world to the 10th largest. As we work towards further diversifying Florida’s economy and placing the long term ahead of the short term, I wanted to share a few interesting trends that have caught the Florida Chamber’s eye as we begin 2022.
There are more open jobs than people looking to fill them. Despite having 513,000 open jobs and only 483,000 people actively looking for work, Florida’s labor force participation rate is on the rise. Pre-pandemic (Feb. 2020) 59.5% of Floridians were participating in the labor market (actively employed or searching for work), by April of 2020, that number had dropped to 55.5%. As of the latest information in November 2021, that number has climbed back up to 59.3%, and continues to trend in the right direction. Sensationalism of the “great resignation” and stories of a generation unwilling to work are everywhere and we’ll be closely monitoring the situation. As we continue our united efforts to educate, attract, and retain the nations top talent to support a vibrant economy in Florida, I will be personally keeping my eye on the labor force participation rate.
Florida’s affordable housing crisis is holding back economic opportunity. Another headline on everyone’s mind is the housing market in Florida, or more specifically, the lack of available and affordable workforce housing in Florida. As of November 2021, Florida had 50,854 active listings for homes across the state, down from 136,960 from February of 2020. Couple that with trends recently published by noted economist, and speaker at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s upcoming Economic Outlook and Jobs Solution Summit on January 7th, Sean Snaith, showing an increase in cash buyers for Florida homes (29.9% of single-family home and 50.2% of condo transactions in October of 2021), the market has driven median housing prices to a record high. Changes in workforce dynamics, the aging of the “Baby Boomer” generation, and an uptick in new housing starts, could alleviate some of this pressure and lead to a bit of a stabilization in 2022, but the Florida Chamber Foundation will be keeping a close eye on housing as the year progresses.
Florida leads the Nation in new business start-ups. One final piece I wanted to touch on is new business startups in Florida. In the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2030 Blueprint, we set out a goal to become the number one state in the country for new business start-ups, and in 2020, that goal was already realized. Over the past two years, Florida has led the nation in the formation of new businesses as individuals from around the world flock toward the opportunities available in Florida. Why is this so important? With a dynamic change occurring across the workforce landscape, and new businesses forming every day, capturing this growth will be vital to our future economic success. Consider this, more than 1.7 million Floridians are employed by firms in Florida that are less than 10 years old.
What’s ahead for 2022? On January 7th, from 1pm-4pm, the Florida Chamber Foundation will, virtually, host our annual Florida Economic Outlook & Jobs Solution Summit. Featuring a collection of economic experts from every sector of Florida, including representatives from the Federal Reserve, State College Presidents, leading executives from Florida’s top businesses, and more, this summit will provide a preview of what to expect as we move our economy toward the future.
At the Florida Chamber Foundation, we will continue to do our part to unite the business community for good on the path to economic success and prosperity for all of Florida, and I would invite you to do the same in your community and network. Together, we can ensure Florida continues to be a state like no other.
-Mark Wilson is President & CEO of the Florida Chambers of Commerce