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Hopeful Signs For Recovery Amid A Grim Economic Picture For Florida

US map showing food scarcity
U.S. Census Bureau
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Map showing food scarcity for each state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey.

While many Floridians in the hospitality, tourism, and related fields are struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some positive signs for a recovery in sectors like health care, computer technology, and construction.

Data from the Census Bureau paint a grim picture of the pandemic’s impact on the economy. According to the bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, 26% of Floridians reported being late on rent, worse than the US average, while 12% reported not having enough to eat.

Economic analyst Dr. Hank Fishkind, of Fishkind Litigation Services, tells WMFE the pandemic is affecting some people far worse than others.

Fishkind said most Floridians who weren’t working in tourism and hospitality and related sectors, or who were able to work from home, kept their jobs.

“As a result, those folks have done quite well during this whole recession,” said Fishkind.

“They are employed, they’re earning incomes, they’re not spending that much, their savings are up, prices for their homes and their stock portfolios have increased strongly.”

But those left behind are struggling, he said.

“The pandemic has accelerated the structural changes too that were already underway in retailing, and now in office work. And that has destroyed millions of small businesses, especially restaurants and shops. And even with the relief in the stimulus. Many of those jobs are never coming back.”

Still, Fishkind said there are some positive signs for a recovery in Central Florida, especially in sectors like health care, computer technology and construction.

He said even with many people out of work, there are opportunities to enroll in vocational training.

“These are very strong sectors, even now in Florida in Central Florida. And they will offer many jobs as we go forward at higher wages than many people are currently earning in our area, you know, when our state and local governments can not only encourage but they can fund these initiatives.”

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