Economist Upbeat on Sarasota Growth Prospects


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, September, 24, 2013 – The robust momentum in property developments in Southwest Florida can be expected to continue in the medium term, based on authoritative economic forecasts made recently. The full service realty firm sees strong credence to the projections of Sean Snaith, the director of the Institute for Economic Competitiveness at the University of Central Florida (UCF), that the pace of recovery in Sarasota and the rest of Florida will begin to accelerate moving into 2014 and beyond. Snaith said that the real gross county product for Sarasota, which is projected at $12 billion this year, will hit about $13.5 billion by 2016.

The well-known economist, speaking in a luncheon hosted this July by the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County, indicated that construction will be among the major primers of the county’s growth. He forecast a 9.2% increase in construction jobs in Sarasota in the next three years, a pace which compares with an estimated state average of just over 7%. A 4.7% gain in professional and business jobs, in addition to a 2% gain in health and education payrolls, are likewise expected.  By 2016, job payrolls should be back at pre-recession levels, the economist said.

Growth primers back

Sarasota and the state as a whole will fare better in 2014 and 2015 than the nation overall as a result of rising in-migration, according to the UCF chief economist. The traditional growth engines of population inflow and housing which “shut down completely” during the Great Recession have come to life anew, he noted. The resumption of population flow will help accelerate the recovery, Snaith emphasized. For Sarasota County, he predicted population growth of 5.2% to 406,000 through 2016.

Snaith, whose institute is reputed as one of the most accurate U.S economic forecasters, also said that prospects of a continuing national recovery in the U.S. home market augurs well for the local economy in Sarasota. This will enable those home-owning baby boomers eying warmer climes in their retired years to satisfactorily recover equity from their residences. In turn, this would boost their capability to finance a new home in the county or other Southwest Florida locations popular as retirement havens.

Strong signals from housing sector

Economic Growth

The economist likewise cited the recent comeback of the local home market which saw housing values rising in Sarasota County for the first time since 2007. The increasing median home prices and thinning inventory of available residential properties combine to trigger more construction activity, Snaith said. The economist put at around $190,000 the median price of Sarasota homes for sale this May, a 16.2% gain from a year earlier. Values of county properties as a whole, he estimated, have risen 4.22% year over year.

The lower inventory levels and rising prices are sending clear signals to build more homes, Snaith reiterated. He pointed out that in time, this new construction will influence the employment picture as well. He predicted that Sarasota County’s payrolls, estimated at 137,000 at the end of 2012, will likely rise to just under 150,000 by the close of 2016.