My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, we are reminded of our many blessings — family and friends, health and happiness, success and the sacrifices made on our behalf by the dedicated members of our armed forces.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Atwaters, 2016I am thankful each and every day for the veterans and active duty military who work to secure and preserve the freedoms that we know as Americans. Many of them, along with our first responders, won’t be joining their families at the dinner table tomorrow. They will be miles away from home and miles away from the memories their loved ones will be making — all in the name of service and the protection of others.

I am forever grateful for Florida’s unmatched landscapes and natural resources, and for the opportunity to live, work, and represent a state as culturally-rich and diverse as Florida. It’s been a privilege and one of the greatest honors of a lifetime.

When you join your loved ones at the table tomorrow, don’t skip the time-honored tradition of sharing with each other what you’re thankful for this year. After dinner and throughout the weekend, you may be tempted to start your holiday shopping. Before you hit the stores, sit down and make a budget so that you don’t go overboard. Keep in mind that many retailers will offer Cyber Monday sales and other deals beyond the Black Friday Blowouts, so don’t feel like you have to buy it all right now.

How much is too much to spend on gifts? It’s a personal decision, but financial planners recommend spending no more than 1.5 percent of your annual income on your holiday shopping. That comes out to $750 for a family earning $50,000/year. Our Department can help you calculate your family’s budget via our Your Money Matter$ website. We offer a holiday-specific calculator, tools to help you manage travel spending, tips sheets on how to entertain on a budget, and more.

Where possible, consider supporting local or small businesses and don’t forget to protect yourself when shopping online. Using a credit card is often safer than using a debit card, as many credit card companies offer 100 percent protection on fraudulent purchases and you don’t want to risk fraudulent purchases being made using money from your checking account.

Whatever your plans, enjoy good food, even better company, and a weekend full of football. I’m looking forward to our annual Sunshine Showdown — the rivalry game between the Florida State Seminoles and the Florida Gators. As a University of Florida alum myself and with a child in school at Florida State, we are still a house divided.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!


Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

Florida's Bottom Line: Florida’s Housing Recovery

Brad O'Connor, Ph.D., is the chief economist for Florida RealtorsLearn about Florida's remarkable housing recovery in an in-depth column written by Brad O'Connor, Ph.D., the chief economist for Florida Realtors, in the most recent edition of Florida's Bottom Line. Here is an excerpt:

It is hard to believe that it has been ten years since the housing bubble burst, sending home values spiraling downward, ushering in the collapse of the financial markets and the subsequent Great Recession. Considering how bad it got here in Florida, the recovery of the state’s housing markets over past five years has truly been nothing short of astounding.

The housing bubble was, of course, a largely nationwide phenomenon, but few states were hit anywhere near as hard as Florida. After several years of robust sales growth throughout the state that was increasingly fueled by speculation and home flipping, the good times finally came to an end in 2006 when, just as a massive amount of newly constructed homes were coming on to the market, it became evident fairly early on that the overall pace of home sales had fallen compared to the previous year.

Read more from Dr. O'Connor about Florida's real estate market in Florida's Bottom Line, CFO Atwater's award-winning quarterly economic magazine, focused on providing you with the latest news and insightful analysis on Florida's financial and economic health.

Florida Economic Briefs

Florida’s unemployment rate rose in October
Florida’s unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in October, up 0.1 percentage points from September (4.7 percent) and down 0.3 percentage points from October of last year (5.1 percent). The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in October.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Record number of tourists visited Florida in Q3-2016
A record 26.9 million tourists visited Florida in the third quarter of 2016, which is 1.3 million more than in 2015 (25.6 million). According to Visit Florida, an estimated 2.8 million tourists were from overseas and 0.4 million were from Canada. In total, more than 85 million visitors have come to Florida thus far in 2016.
Source: Visit Florida