Pulling out of the downturn fastest: healthcare, tourism, education, government
By Marilyn Bowden
Experts from various fields find that the sectors of the local economy exhibiting positive signs of recovery are healthcare, tourism, education and government; the least likely to succeed are real estate and related occupations.
In South Florida, as in the rest of the nation, education, healthcare and government employment are improving, said Jerry Haar, associate dean for international programs in the Department of Management & International Business at FIU's College of Business Administration.
"Education will be on the upswing," he said, "because people need to go back to school to get better credentials.
"I think tourism is going to pick up a little as well. This is consumer psychology — if people know this recession or extremely slow recovery will be with us for a while, why not go on vacation now?"
"The healthcare industry has held up pretty well," said Manuel Lasaga, president of StratInfo, a business economics and finance consultancy. "In particular, employment in the industry is showing very positive growth.
"We're also beginning to see the leisure and hospitality industry move into positive territory — an important area for Miami-Dade."
Dr. Lasaga said he is seeing some pickup in business services, particularly temporary employment agencies, "which reflects the reluctance on the part of businesses to hire until they get a better sense not only of whether the economy is rebuilding but also what it will be like going forward."
As economies to the south rebound, Miami's ties to Latin America are boosting export businesses.
"The wholesale industry is showing positive trends over the previous year," Dr. Lasaga said. "A number of our trading partners are picking up nicely economically."
"In South Florida, because of our neighbors to the south, international trade has dodged the big bullet of the recession in many ways," Dr. Haar said. "They have an insatiable demand for consumer products. Some are made in the state of Florida and will go through our airport and seaport."
In addition, he said, for Brazilians in particular, South Florida remains a shoppers' paradise, with prices much lower than they find at home.
The South Florida business community also benefits from repressive regimes in Latin American, Dr. Haar said, as the entrepreneurial class, expelled from their home countries, moves to South Florida, where they have kinship ties.
"That will create a job multiplier effect in the economy," he said.
Dr. Lasaga also noted some improvement in retail year over year, "although it has still not caught up with the volume of activity it has lost. But some large retail establishments are gearing up for modest growth."
Convention, meeting and tradeshow activity reflects much the same pattern, said Ita Moriarty, senior vice president of convention sales at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
"The health-care industry continues to be very strong," she said. "They are doing pretty well overall, and most of the medical meetings that have met here have had an incredibly strong international presence." The same holds true, she said, for pharmaceuticals.
In the financing and insurance industry, Ms. Moriarty said, "budgets are being opened up and meetings are being held again."
Cruise shipping is very strong, she said, and jewelry shows and a swimwear show have reported increased attendance over the previous year.
"We've got a lot of stuff going for us," Dr. Haar said, "but construction and real estate will be in the doldrums for quite some time."
"We will be dragged down by the problems in real estate and construction," Dr. Lasaga said. "Other areas that are lagging include financial institutions, where there has been a lot of consolidation, and also professional services such as attorneys, accountants and engineers. The volume of their business based on employment is still in negative territory."