The national economy is recovering from one of the worst downturns in the nation’s history, but it is a recovery that is just “muddling along,” according to Sean Snaith, director of the Institute of Economic Competitiveness at the University of Central Florida.
“It was the worst recession since the Great Depression,” he said. “The recovery is also historical. It’s historically weak.”
The good news for Florida and for Pasco County is that they are seeing better growth than the nation as a whole.
On the plus side for Pasco, people are moving into the county.
“More people brings more economic activity,” said Snaith, who was a guest speaker at the Annual Economic Forecast Luncheon hosted by the Pasco Economic Development Council on Feb. 5 at the Tampa Bay Golf & Country Club.
“People and employment growth will continue. We see some momentum. There’s a lot of construction activity on the way.”
Florida’s growth is outpacing the nation, he said. Florida’s growth rate is about 4 percent, compared to a national rate of 2 percent.
The state also posted good numbers for job creation in the last quarter of 2015, and that likely will continue.
“That’s our launching pad,” Snaith said. “We still have momentum on our side.”
He is especially bullish on the Interstate 4 corridor, which he described as the “bread basket for growth.”
According to Snaith, the recession ended in 2012. But, Craig Weber, general manager of Crown Community Development,
saw signs of recovery in the Wesley Chapel area of Pasco as early as 2010. Signs continue to be good, he said.
Crown is the developer of Seven Oaks and Watergrass.
“Sales of lots are really strong,” Weber said.
Interstate 75, State Road 56, the widening of State Road 54 and The Shops at Wiregrass led the way.
More development has followed, including Tampa Premium Outlets and Cypress Creek Town Center. “All of this makes it the new center for Tampa Bay growth,” Weber said.
Locally, businesses are benefiting from the area’s growth as well, said Tim Fredritz, account executive at Dex Imaging Co.
The national chain has 25 offices in Florida, including one in Hudson. The company had healthy growth even during the bad economy, Fredritz said. “People always need copiers.”
But, new businesses in Pasco, including Wesley Chapel, mean new opportunities, he said.
There are caution signs, Snaith warned.
Global economies are slowing, notably in China. Brazil could be headed into its worst recession in 100 years. Greece has 25 percent unemployment overall, with youth unemployment at 50 percent.
One in eight Canadians come to Florida each year, but Snaith said the Canadian dollar has fallen in value against U.S. currency.
“That’s going to change behavior and how they spend when they are here,” Snaith said
There also is the potential for a national recession, though not on the scale of the last one.
“Don’t go into your panic room,” Snaith said. “Generally speaking, you’re in a region that’s growing faster than the state and generally faster than the nation. This is a pretty good place to be.”
Published February 10, 2016