Florida’s Many Accolades And Shining Recognitions

Whether it’s education, the state economy, vibrant business environment, job market or days of sunshine, Florida’s outlook is bright.

Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace.

— Steve’s Marketplace —

Florida gets as many accolades each year as days of sunshine. And its outlook is blindingly bright, like a sunny summer day.

In a normal year, Florida enjoys 240 days of sunshine. Only Arizona gets more sun, but it’s far behind in accolades. Would you prefer a beach with a palm tree, or a desert with a cactus?

In the latest sun splash of recognition, Florida is ranked No. 1 in the U.S. in higher education, according to U.S. News & World Report. And locally, the Jacksonville area has the second-hottest job market in the country, with record growth, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal and Moody Analytics.

The two categories are intertwined. The exemplary higher-education system and the vibrant business environment go together like peanut butter and jelly. The well-prepared college students help fill the jobs.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that Florida is experiencing the highest rate of in-migration in the country. This statistic measures the people moving in versus those moving out. Inevitably, Nassau County’s economy capitalizes from this cresting wave of new residents and businesses.

The Jacksonville employment market has been climbing for three years. The Bold City was No. 5 in 2021 and No. 3 in 2022. Only Salt Lake City outpaced Jacksonville in the latest rankings, which surveyed 380 cities in the U.S.

Large and small companies alike continue to locate in the Jacksonville region (which includes Nassau County), driving up wages for all workers. For instance, Boeing just announced a new facility creating 300 high-paying jobs. And small businesses here provide services like plumbing and electrical, lawn care, tax preparation, etc.

As a city, Jacksonville has built-in amenities, like ports and railroads and an accessible airport. Also, being located in North Florida helps the city connect with other states. This facilitates the transportation of goods, particularly by truck.

Other Florida cities joined Jacksonville on the list. Orlando, Tampa and Miami also placed in the top 10. In other words, Florida is open for business.

In the U.S. News survey, each state is measured across 71 metrics. This creates an annual “Best States” template.

Higher education isn’t the only category where Florida excelled. The state placed first in education overall, when including K-12 schools. The state had high scores in tuition and fees, student debt, and graduation rates. The University of Florida led the state in the rankings, followed by Florida State University and the University of Miami.

In other categories, the Florida economy ranked No. 7 in the country, with high scores in growth and its business environment. These characteristics are emphasized in the Jacksonville area – which has space for development.

As a state, the gross domestic product (GDP) approaches $1.4 billion. This is extraordinary. Tourism is obviously a major contributor to the output, with our amusement parks and cruise ships leading the way.

Tourism produces a sizable share of Florida’s sales taxes. This enables Florida to avoid a dreaded state income tax. And this feeds the prolific retirement industry in the state. As do 1,200 miles of coastline.

In addition, the state’s agriculture industry is robust. And a burgeoning financial industry acts like the icing on a delicious cake. Heck, our cake can probably win awards, and accolades, and recognitions.

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Steve Nicklas is the managing partner of Nicklas Wealth Management in Fernandina Beach. He is also an award-winning columnist. His columns also appear in weekly newspapers in Northeast Florida and in Southeast Georgia, and on his website at www.SteveNicklasMarketplace.com. He has published a book, “All About Money,” of his favorite columns from the past 20 years. The book is available on Amazon. He has also done financial reports for area radio stations and for National Public Radio in Jacksonville. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 904-753-0236.