Economic expert Dr. Sean M. Snaith with the Institute for Economic Competitiveness painted a somewhat dour portrait of the world at Friday’s Tourist Development Council meeting – he outlined the economic strife and recessions plaguing Brazil and China and Greece, as well as the future problems Britain may face due to the controversial Brexit decision earlier this year.
But Orlando and Orange County are doing well in comparison to the state and the world, he said.
The Institute for Economic Competitiveness is a subset of UCF, which strives to provide accurate and timely economic forecasts.
Snaith opened his presentation by recounting the classic children’s story “Chicken Little,” in which the titular character is hit by a falling acorn and decides the sky is falling.
That, Snaith said, is how many people tend to view world and national economics.
“You can always find somebody who can take any acorn and spin it into the fact that the sky is falling,” he said. “I don’t subscribe to that particular type of forecasting – more than one acorn to pay attention to, some global, some national and some here in Central Florida.”
On the world stage, he ran through a quick reel of the major problems faced by world powers – among them Greece’s financial crisis and the decline of the Euro there, the Brexit vote and Europe’s migrant crisis. China was in the midst of an economic downturn and Brazil was in its worst recession in years.
In the U.S., he said things were creeping toward a recession, with the job rate stable but paying less in the last few years, and a decrease in GDP growth, as well as gross private domestic investment having contracted for three quarters now.
But Orlando and Orange County are doing fairly well, he said – even in spite of some challenges. He said it was possible that the Brexit vote and the financial crises in Britain would eventually have an impact on tourism to Orlando – though it had not yet.
He also said the presence of the Zika virus had caused concern, especially among people looking to travel to Florida. Britain has already issued a travel warning.
At that, Mayor Teresa Jacobs said they were doing all they could to bolster their mosquito control unit and make sure the public knew how to dispose of standing water that could harbor Zika mosquitoes.
“Our mosquito control is second to none,” she said. “We have to be vigilant.”
Snaith said the economy in the Orlando area was actually doing fairly well, with the forecast for job creation from 2016 to 2019 seeing raises in several fields from business and professional services to hospitality.
In addition, the Orlando area is still number one in the state for the percentage of employment growth over the next several years.
Snaith told FloridaPolitics.com that despite the global concerns, the Central Florida region is actually doing pretty well overall, and that should give some comfort to us locally.
“As global situations boil over and tip the economy into recession, our region’s economy is outperforming the state and outperforming the national average,” he said. “The strength of these trends should continue for some time.”