St. Lucie County Economic Recovery.
Back in 2013, Florida crossed over from lagging behind the national recovery to getting out in front. The decline in unemployment from 8.0 percent in January 2013 to 6.1 percent in January 2014 was driven by new jobs. The state’s labor force showed a small increase of 29,000, but the number of unemployed declined by 172,000.
Those statistics were impressive for the state of Florida, as a whole, but St. Lucie County didn’t, for the most part, take part in that growth. Port St. Lucie and Fort Pierce’s economy remained stagnant.
That slow growth trend for Port St.Lucie and Fort Pierce seems to have finally subsided. Port St. Lucie is recovering steadily. Excluding construction, employment is 1% short of its pre-recession peak, and hiring has not been this strong since 2005.
Florida’s economy in 2014 is now leading the nation in job growth and overall recovery and Port St. Lucie is seeing its effects. Thanks to skyrocketing Florida tourism and a boost in consumer confidence, the state is benefiting from a rise in sales tax revenues, which are up 7 percent so far in 2014.
Unemployment statistics for Port St. Lucie, while the overall picture is improving, still remain depressingly high. The January of 2014 the unemployment rate stood at 7.7 %. The only city in Florida with a worst rate at that point in time was Palm Coast, Florida, at 9.3%.
For the residential construction industry, rising consumer confidence is a necessity. Statewide prices stand at 60 percent of where they were at their peak in early 2006. In general, prices in Florida have recovered much more slowly than the rest of the country. For Port St. Lucie specifically, that trend continues. The devastated housing market weighs heavily on Port St. Lucie residents. There remain an overstock of homes for sale and that is holding down new construction, to some extent.
But, local home builders have been watching as those statistics improved and are now beginning to respond with new home construction. The state-wide monthly average of housing permits in 2013 stands at 41 percent of the pre-recession average. Average Port St. Lucie pre-resession housing permits issued equaled 620; Average Port St. Lucie 2013 housing permits issued equaled 94. Those numbers put Port St. Lucie way behind Florida’s economic recovery statistics.
Port St. Lucie was one of the first cities in Florida to feel the recession’s effect with job losses starting in April 2007. When the national recovery began in June 2009, Port St. Lucie lagged behind the pace of the U.S. economic recovery for several years. Now, South Florida employment is expected to grow by 2.3 percent each year through 2017. Unemployment is forecast to moderate to an average of 5.7 percent.
There is good reason to believe that Port St. Lucie and Fort Pierce will share in the growth. The sector expected to have the strongest average job growth during 2014-2017, according to payroll surveys, is construction (10 percent).
Time will tell, but St. Lucie County’s economy is looking much brighter than it did just months ago. Weakness in housing permits and construction employment show that St. Lucie County still has a long journey on the road to recovery, but in the past year a number of indicators have improved. The jump in statewide housing starts, expected to be more than 108,000 in 2014 and rise to 165,500 by 2017, will be a welcomed event for construction workers in general and this tile contractor in particular.
Update: While home prices are still a bargain compared with the boom years, home prices in August of 2015 have shown a steady upward track from the bottom ($130,000 to $140,000 per unit in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012) to a current $179,995 median.
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My tiling service areas include Port St. Lucie (PSL), Fort Pierce, Stuart and Vero Beach, FL.
In St. Lucie County Boyer Tile LLC. services Port St. Lucie, St. Lucie West, Tradition, Torino, Tesoro, Lake Charles, Lake Forest, Magnolia Lakes, PGA Village, The Vineyards, St James Golf Club, The Cascades, and Fort Pierce, FL.
In Indian River County Boyer Tile LLC. services Vero Beach, Indian River Shores and Sebastian, FL.