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Tough times for Florida economy, despite high ranking by CEOs

Florida now ranks as the 2nd-best state for business, according to a survey conducted by Chief Executive magazine. Chief executives gave Florida high standards for its business-friendly tax policies, regulatory structure and workforce quality. Texas ranked No. 1.

Unfortunately, Florida does not come anywhere near 2nd-best in several categories that actually track real economic progress statistically.

The Florida Legislature's Office of Economic and Demographic Research released an updated report this week titled Florida: An Economic Overview. The report used real economic data, often ranking Florida with other states, usually near the bottom of the pack. Here are some takeaways:

-- Florida' Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ranked 40th in the nation in real growth with a gain of 1.4 percent. For comparison, Texas had a GDP growth of 2.8 percent.

-- Florida’s per capita personal income grew 3.5 percent in 2011 over 2010, ranking the state 45th in the country with respect to state growth. Florida was one of only five states where earnings are below their 2007 or 2008 peaks.

-- Florida’s unemployment rate in March was 9 percent, also putting Florida at the back of the national pack. According to EDR, only four states had a higher unemployment rate than Florida. Florida was tied with three states:  Georgia, Mississippi, and New Jersey. While the unemployment rate here is moving in a positive direction, it has a long way to go to catch up to Texas, which is sitting at 7 percent.

-- Florida’s foreclosure process takes an average of 806 days, which is 47th worst in the country. Florida, by far, has more loans currently in stuck foreclosure than any other state.

-- In terms of the number of monthly foreclosure filings, Florida ranks 49th worst. Only four states have a higher foreclosure rate.

More from the report:

“--The job market will take a long time to recover – about 746,100 jobs have been lost since the most recent peak.  Rehiring, while necessary, will not be enough.

-- Florida’s prime working-age population (aged 25-54) is forecast to add over 2,600 people per month, so the hole is deeper than it looks.

--It would take the creation of about 1 million jobs for the same percentage of the total population to be same percentage of the total population to be working as was the case at the peak.”

 Florida’s economy puts President Barack Obama and Gov. Rick Scott in the same boat, as both would like to take credit for things improving in the Sunshine State. Republican contender Mitt Romney would like to bag Florida’s 29 electoral votes, so he has made a point of highlighting Florida’s economic woes. Meanwhile, Scott is highlighting his business-friendly agenda, and using reports like the one in Chief Executive magazine to show that it’s working.