Dr. Rick Harper is looking into his crystal ball for the Pensacola metro area’s economy for 2016.
He shares what he found there in this week’s Economic Report on WUWF radio. He also talks with Sandra Averhart about the Chinese stock market crisis and its possible lasting effects.
Here’s an excerpt on what the year ahead holds for the local economy:
Harper also talked about the job outlook locally in 2016. Despite some slowing towards the end of 2015, the outlook is positive.
“For Pensacola, it’s extremely unusual that we roughly keep up with the state of Florida in terms of job growth,” Harper said. “But looking at the most recent figures available growth through the end November 2015, Pensacola has been right about 3 percent per year, which is just exceptionally strong job growth.”
In contrast, Fort Walton Beach has had slower job growth at 1.6 percent, while both Mobile has remained stagnant and Panama City actually showed job loss.
“The job market looks decent for Northwest Florida, strong for Florida overall and unusually, Pensacola is leading the pack when you consider Mobile, Fort Walton and Panama City,” Harper said.
One of the big drivers of Pensacola’s job growth has been the expansion of Navy Federal Credit Union.
“For Pensacola to have a good year in jobs, we need to gain about 1,800-2,000 per year,” Harper said.
As a single large project, Navy Federal’s commitment to hire around 500 employees each year, as well the ripple effect throughout the economy, create about half of that job growth.
“When you put the other things the economic development recruiting team wants to pile on top as additional wins, it’s poised to be a good 2016,” Harper said.