South Florida’s economy moves back into 2003 territory


An improving labor market moves the Economic Time Machine’s gauges ahead one year. Welcome back to 2003.

The recovery may be in doubt, but South Florida’s economy has seen some progress in recent months.

The Economic Time Machine’s reading of the local economy shows a big gain from just a few months earlier. Thanks to an improving labor market, the ETM’s gauges see the economy moving about nine months closer to recovery.

Our Economic Time Machine tracks 60 local indicators — from the revenue generated by the average hotel room in Broward County to cargo shipments in and out of Miami International Airport —and compares current readings to where they were before the Great Recession.

At the start of 2012, the ETM found current conditions best matched those seen in September 2002. But after improvement in employment statistics, the dials have moved. The latest reading by the Time Machine: June 2003.

That’s a nine-month gain, and reflects big progress on hiring. With unemployment down in Broward and Miami-Dade and payrolls continuing to expand, the current hiring conditions moved from 1996 levels to 1999 levels.

Of course, the fact that South Florida hiring hasn’t advanced to even the last decade highlights just how grim the employment landscape remains. But progress is progress.

This summer will be a big test for South Florida’s rebound in housing and hiring. Global economic conditions are flashing signs of trouble, and South Florida’s April employment report was mixed.

If the numbers don’t get better in the coming months, 2004 could be looking even farther away than it does now.

Read more The Economic Time Machine stories from the Miami Herald

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