Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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One of FL's Top Economists Talks About FL's Economy: "Really good for some parts of Florida"

Dr. Jerry Parrish is the Chief Economist & Director of Research for the Florida Chamber Foundation. He was formerly the Chief Economist and Director for the Center for Competitive Florida at Florida Tax Watch. In an earlier life he was with Ducati Motorcycles. He has a PhD in Economics.

Last night, Dr. Parrish was the guest speaker at the North Central FL Regional Planning Council. For 40 minutes Dr. Parrish had the audience's attention.

Dr. Parrish told the gathering, "I'm always glad to go out and talk about Florida's future. That's what I like to talk about."

The Florida Chamber: a 100 year old lobbying group

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Dr. Parrish opened his presentation explaining the Florida Chamber. "The Florida Chamber does advocacy work dealing with Florida legislators and recruits people to run for office that will make the right long term decisions for the state of Florida. My part at the Foundation: I do research. We look 2 to 30 years out into the future; identify the solutions; we hand those solutions off to the Chamber and they go advocate and make sure the right buttons are being pushed when it comes time for the legislature to vote."

So far this year, the Florida Chamber had endorsed 40 candidates running for the Florida Legislature: 38 republicans and 2 democrats.

Dr. Parrish said he is not one of the lobbyists, he is an economist.

"I want to talk about the economy. We do updates every month. It's important, because we want to see how we are doing against other states and the U.S. as a whole," he said.

Dr. Parrish continued, "Last month more than 60% of the jobs created in the U.S. were created in Florida. Florida job creation in the last year is almost double that of the U.S. As an economist and forecaster, we cannot outpace the entire country forever."

Florida Has Been a Job Creator & Income Importer

"You can safely say that in the last 12 months more than one in every ten jobs created in the U.S. was created in Florida. That's the total private sector jobs, plus the total government jobs. That's been really good for some parts of Florida," he said. "1000 people a day are moving to Florida bringing in $805k per hour."

                                                                                                                  State Metrics

The Planning Council members listened, almost transfixed, for 40 minutes before Dr. Parrish asked for questions.

Your reporter asked, "You might remember the Great Recession in 2008, the recession that some people are still recovering from. I don't recall the Florida Chamber predicting the Great Recession. What happened with that?"

Dr. Parrish explained that at the time he was at Florida Tax Watch and shared his thoughts about the Great Recession, "Florida started earlier; lasted longer; and was two to three times as devastating on the Florida economy as the average in the U.S."

In a light-hearted comment he shared an economist joke, "Economists predicted nine out of the last five recessions."

Your reporter followed up, "Why hasn't Florida attracted more Fortune 500 company headquarters to Florida with its great economy and great weather? Is Florida providing the work place that supports Fortune 500 companies like it does in other states?"

Dr. Parrish answered, "We have a perception that all we've created is tourism jobs.... Over the last year there were four categories where Florida created more that 40,000 jobs in each category. It wasn't just the hospitality industry."

Soft Skills: A Big Issue in North Central Florida

Dr. Parrish addressed soft skills, "If you look at what employers are looking for right now: number one is soft skills. Even people that are looking for engineers have figured out that if they don't have somebody that can show up to work on time; get along with their colleagues; and work in teams that they are not very valuable."

"My optimism for the Florida economy is that we have a ton of people who have started their careers in the hospitality industry. That's what they learn. They learn to say please and thank you and show up to work on time. There is a great opportunity now to add skills to those people for our future work force."

The Fortune 500

Dr. Parrish continued, "Let's get back to the headquarters. I've worked for companies that moved. I got to look at this."

He explained that recently he heard from a site selector from GE "telling us why they didn't choose Florida, choosing Boston instead. It wasn't because Florida wasn't cheaper. Their work force didn't want to pack up and leave the Northeast... What companies will do is shop other states; get the best incentives they can; then go back to their own state [and look for a match]."

Florida Revenue

Dr. Parrish concluded his presentation talking about Florida revenue, "I would say Florida runs on sales tax. 77% of our general revenue comes from sales and use taxes. I would guess that's the highest in the country. As an economist I would say it's much better to tax consumption than it is production."


Suwannee County Commissioner and retired UPS executive Larry Sessions told the Observer, "I'm really impressed. This guy really knows his stuff. When I have a few minutes, I am going to the website and drill down through the numbers."

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