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Back from the brink, finance industry posts biggest rebound in Florida

Florida’s financial sector has stepped back from the precipice, helping lead the Sunshine State out of the recession.

New federal statistics put financeatop the list of Florida industries posting the biggest rebounds since 2008, the first full year of a recession that officially began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.

On the other end of the spectrum: construction and real estate, which have combined to account for roughly two-thirds of Florida’s lost economic output since 2008.

The statistics from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis on state-by-state economic production show Florida is recovering from the recession slower than most states.

Florida’s economy grew by .5 percent last year, putting it just above the worst tier in terms of the states’ recoveries. On the positive side of the ledger, North Dakota saw its economy grow by 7.6 percent last year and Texas by 3.3 percent. On the negative side, Alabama, Mississippi and New Jersey saw their economies shrink by less than 1 percent.

Florida remains the fourth-largest economy in the United States, behind New York, Texas and California. Despite taking a serious beating, real estate remains the largest single contributor to the Sunshine State’s $754 billion economy — accounting for about 16 percent of the overall output.

Behind finance, retail and healthcare are aiding Florida’s rebound the most.

When credit markets around the world essentially shut down at the end of 2008 and into 2009, the value of financial transactions in Florida plummeted. That set up the financial sector for a more dramatic rebound than industries that weren’t hit as hard in 2008.

A return to lending has helped the finance industry’s economic output, but employment is another matter. Florida’s financial industry has added only 5,300 jobs this year, compared to 24,000 from health and education and another 24,000 from professional services.

The Miami Herald’s Economic Time Machine tracks 60 local indicators in an effort to chart South Florida’s recovery from the Great Recession. By comparing current conditions to where they were before the downturn, the ETM attempts to measure how far back the recession set the economy. The answer so far: September 2002. Visit ETM headquarters at for the latest updates.