Even though it’s officially over, Florida’s recession keeps getting worse.
New statistics from Washington define a much more severe recession for the Sunshine State than first believed. In 2009, during the depths of the financial crisis, Florida’s economy shrank by 5.4 percent — much worse than the original estimate of a 3.7 percent drop. That also gave Florida a tougher year than the economy at large, with the U.S. economy down 3.8 percent in 2009.
The numbers from the Bureau of Economic Analysis offer another look at just how dramatically Florida’s economy changed between 2007 and now. From its previous peak in 2007 until last year, Florida’s economy lost about $54 billion in spending and wages — a 7.5 percent drop. Most of the damage came from a depression in home sales and housing construction, with those two industries combining for a $132 billion loss.
Florida’s unemployment rate has been dropping since the spring of 2010. But the current reading of 8.7 percent is still almost triple where it was in 2006, when unemployment hit 3.3 percent.
“The economy’s just not growing enough for businesses to be forced to hire,’’ said Sean Snaith, an economist at the University of Central Florida.
Florida’s $754 billion economy grew by .5 percent last year, putting it just above the worst tier in terms of the states’ recoveries. Among the stand-outs: North Dakota saw its economy grow by 7.6 percent last year and Texas by 3.3 percent. 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 economy — accounting for about 16 percent of the overall output.