The Economic Time Machine

Panama City bumps Miami for top rebound in tourism spending

Miami-Dade’s tourism industry has lost its claim to Florida’s biggest economic comeback.

Tourism spending is up 21 percent in Miami-Dade since the recession, an impressive rebound by any count. And until recently, no other industry in the state was posting stronger growth. But the latest sales-tax data from Panama City put that destination at the top, with tourism spending up a whopping 26 percent. Miami-Dade’s tourism industry will have to be content with second place — for now.

The ranking doesn’t really matter, of course. But we at the Economic Time Machine made a fuss at Miami-Dade’s No. 1 status a few months ago, so we need to note the leader-change now.

[UPDATE: A reader wrote saying the ETM was not being fair to bump Miami-Dade down to the state’s No. 2 tourism rebound, given the different sizes of the two vacation markets. We’ll concede you can’t compare Miami-Dade’s tourism industry (about $775 million in spending a year) with Panama City ($85 million). But when keeping score post-recession, a rebound is a rebound.]

The figures come from Florida’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research, which breaks out monthly taxable-sales data into different industry categories. They offer a broad look at parts of the state doing well post-recession, and those industries that are still basically stuck in a depression.

Punta Gorda’s construction industry remains at the very bottom of the list, with construction spending down 64 percent from its past peak. That’s an astounding figure, but no construction industry has much to cheer about. Miami-Dade’s construction spending is down 48 percent, and Broward’s is down almost 40 percent. Both have encouraging trends underway, though.

Compared to last year, construction spending is up 6 percent in Broward and 7 percent in Miami-Dade.

Industries in Florida | Infographics

The Miami Herald’s Economic Time Machine blog seeks to put South Florida’s recovery into historical perspective. We try to take the long view on economic stats. For analysis of the latest economic news, visit and look for our weekly chart on Page 3 of Business Monday.