Some of you may have experienced an above average first
quarter. In reviewing some of our
leading South Florida economic indicators and attending several meetings with
well respected economists, I would characterize our situation as a long walk
out of a recession sink hole.
To be sure, activity from major sporting events helped fuel
January and February in the tri-county area.
January’s airport passenger counts were up 4.1 percent over last year and
hotel occupancy rates increased from Dec. through March. Unemployment in Broward
County peaked at 10.9 percent in February, ebbing to 10.6 percent in March. The real question is can we continue to
increase job gains and put a dent in the 103,839 unemployed in Broward County?
In meeting with senior staffing firm executives, I am
encouraged with what they reported—increased hiring practices. While retail sales have been pleasantly
higher than expected, overall, businesses are not rushing to make capital investments.
Taking everything into account, I would grade the first
quarter with a B-, above average with room for improvement. We must create more employment opportunities
coupled with capital investment to make the grade in succeeding quarters.
Dan Lindblade, CAE