Tom Hanks and the merengue rarely factor into economic analysis, but they both briefly combined to highlight a thriving sector in South Florida’s economy.
The Oscar winner traveled to Doral in June 2011 for the morning broadcast of Despierta America, Univision’s hit morning show. Eager to promote his Larry Crowne comedy to almost 800,000 daily viewers, Hanks listened amiably as the hosts bantered in Spanish. Then, seemingly looking for something to do, he followed host Chiquinquira Delgado to the weather map and danced a Latin beat while Delgado reported on the day’s high temperatures.
“Gotta love Univision,’’ Hanks tweeted later that day. “What a fun hour that was. Peppers for breakfast. Que Bueno!”
Hanks’ infamously awkward Doral detour — the You Tube clip has more than 1 million views — helps explain why television broadcasting ranks as one of Miami-Dade’s thriving industries in an obscure federal database of labor statistics.
Along with lawyers, warehouse workers, cruise ship crew and art dealers, television broadcasters enjoy a much larger footprint in the local workforce than they would in the typical U.S. economy, according to a 2011 survey of businesses nationwide conducted by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In Broward, boat dealers, manufacturers of communication equipment, call-center operators, real estate agents and racetrack workers hold top spots on the BLS list of employment workhorses.
The scoring — known as a location quotient — rarely gets much attention amid the monthly look at which local industries are adding and losing jobs. And with the quotients measuring even the tiniest nooks of the $260 billion local economy, sometimes the statistics can seem more novelty than insight. (Case in point: Broward’s 86 professional musicians represent an industry roughly 60 percent below the national average, according to the BLS.)
But together, the measurements offer another way to consider the inherent strengths and weaknesses of Florida’s largest economy as business and government leaders plot strategies to recover from one of the worst recessions in South Florida history. The hope is to remake an economy seen as too reliant on tourism and construction, and recruit the kind of industries that can maintain high-paying jobs even in a downturn.
“Diversity of industries is important,” said Phillis Oeters, chair of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. “You don’t want to rely on one or two sectors to drive your entire economy.”
But which industries are thriving, and which trail the pack? Location quotients offer one way to answer that question.
Essentially, the location quotients measure an industry’s share of the workforce compared to the national average.
When a local industry’s share of workers matches the national average, that local industry receives a location quotient of 1. Anything smaller indicates an industry under-performing compared to a typical U.S. economy. Anything larger suggests that industry is something of a stand-out in terms of employment.
Of course, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. A large location quotient can mean an industry glutted with too many competitors, while a low score can show potential. And some scores simply capture the circumstances that make South Florida a particularly good fit for an industry. (For example, Miami-Dade’s floral-warehouse industry is about 10 times the national average, thanks to the flow of flowers from growers in Latin America.)