Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Region Outpaces Rest of Florida

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Region Outpaces Rest of Florida

Article excerpt

TWO TIMES THE GROWTH: And Charlotte's economy grew three times faster

The economic recovery may seem slow around here, but the growth of Southwest Florida's economy outpaced the state in the first quarter, according to one measure.

The Econocast index -- which counts an housing starts to unemployment claims -- showed Charlotte County's economy growing at triple the statewide rate and the Sarasota-Bradenton economy doubling the state pace.

Still, the state economy and those of the 20 metropolitan areas that are tracked in the index created by Orlando-based Fishkind & Associates Inc. are far below where they were at the height of the building boom. Despite the improvements, the index stands now at roughly where it was 11 years ago.

Statewide, the index was up 1.51 percent in the first quarter and 4.8 percent from where it stood at the end of the first quarter of 2011.

The statewide improvements were tied to an accelerating decline in new unemployment claims, a 38 percent jump in housing starts, a mild increase in median housing prices and a jump in new construction, tied mainly to the building of apartments, Fishkind Associates reported. …

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