Our local economic indicators are a mixed bag—tourism is
holding us together, real estate continues its schizophrenic ride, and jobs
remain the x-factor.
With over 100,000 in Broward County collecting unemployment
and countless more whom we know are out of work but not looking, repeat after
me—JOBS, JOBS, JOBS. Everyone must be focused on job creation and retention.
Broward County, our 31 cities and the School Board are major
employers but they are feeling the pinch of budget shortfalls thanks to
declining real estate values. I have talked to literally hundreds of people
about the employment situation. Most of the time I see a blank stare.
If it weren’t for the stability of tourism, we would be in the
toilet. Occupancy is up while tax revenues were slightly off. Bed tax revenues
generated almost $17.5 million through May this year compared to $18 million
during the same period in 2009 for a 4 percent decrease, while occupancy was up
every month between 2-5 percent through June.
Passenger traffic was up four percent through July 2010 over
the same period last year at the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International
Airport. There were 13.34 million passengers for the first seven months this
year compared to 12.8 million last year.
Which brings me to real estate. I’ve always said that once
real estate comes back online we will be on the road to recovery. Not only will
jobs follow, but the residual effect on our economy will be profound. All areas
of real estate are hurting—construction, residential resales, condos, and
commercial. Look for this sector to stabilize in the fourth quarter.
Bottom line is we are missing a few spark plugs. Job growth
and real estate must come back online in order for the pain to ebb.
It Is My Pleasure,
Dan Lindblade, CAE