By Donna Gehrke-White, Sun Sentinel
South Florida is expected to outpace the state in personal income growth with the help of surging tourism and international trade, according to a new economic report released Friday by the University of Central Florida.
Personal income in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties is projected to grow 4.2 percent in 2012 — more than the state’s estimated 3.9 percent increase, said Sean Snaith, author of the quarterly report that is published by UCF’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness.
South Florida’s strong rate of personal income growth is expected to help the state outperform the national average for first time since 2006, the institute predicted. Even better years are ahead for South Florida and the rest of the state, Snaith predicted.
More Latin Americans are coming because they get more for their dollar spent here, said William B. Stronge, an economics professor emeritus at Florida Atlantic University.
“The dollar has been going down compared to the currencies in Latin America, particularly the Brazilian currency,” he said.
That has encouraged some to buy South Florida homes, helping shrink the surplus inventory that had flooded the real estate market after the housing bust, Stronge said.
Tourists coming from within the United States are also helping the South Florida economy, UCF’s Snaith said. “I think we are seeing pretty good growth — tourism in general has been a sector that has improved,” he said.
Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties are also faring better than other parts of the state because the three counties tend to attract more affluent U.S. retirees, who are enjoying a surging stock market. More are resettling in South Florida now that they have fatter brokerage accounts, Snaith said.
The surging stock market returns are also adding assets to South Florida workers who are projected to enjoy a more modest 2.6 percent increase in wages this year, the report predicted.
South Floridians, on average, earn more than other workers throughout the state, UCF found. The three counties also have the state’s largest metro economy with $256 billion in goods and services expected to be sold here in 2012, the report found.
Job growth in South Florida should be about 1.8 percent this year with construction and mining jobs growing at the fastest rate, followed by the professional and business services sector. Part of that construction growth will be fueled by more people moving to South Florida — an average 1.3 percent increase in population this year.
South Florida “is expected to show strong growth in the economic indicators,” the report concluded.
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