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Report: Florida's economy, unemployment face uphill battle

Florida's economy continues to face a number of challenges as it tries to rebound from the Great Recession, according to a report out today from the The Florida Legislature's Office of Economic and Demographic Research.

The report found that while Florida's unemployment rate has dropped from 9.9 percent in December to 8.6 percent in May, most of the drop was due to people dropping out of the labor force. Nearly 70 percent of the decline in unemployment is due to people leaving the state's workforce. 

"If the [labor] participation rate had held steady since 12/11 the unemployment rate would have been 9.5 percent," the report found.

Also from OEDR: "Florida’s personal income grew 0.7 percent in the first quarter of 2012, ranking the state 38th in the country with respect to state growth. This was only slightly behind Texas which was ranked 36th. The national average was 0.8 percent. Health Care and Social Assistance and Professional, Scientific and Technical Services were the strongest industry contributors to the state’s growth. Compared to the US as a whole, Construction continues to be a drag."

The report did note that only eight counties in Florida had double-digit unemployment, down from a peak of 52 during the height of the recession. Still, home foreclosures, a tight credit market and the impending federal spending cuts to the defense budget threaten to drag out the recovery.

 General revenue has come in higher than expected, to the tune of about $393 million extra dollars through the first half of the year. 

June unemployment numbers will be released on Friday.

For the full report, titled "Florida: An Economic Overview," click here