The Mayor’s Office, the City of Tallahassee and the Office of Economic Vitality (OEV) are publicly stating that Tallahassee has the fastest growing economy in the state of Florida despite questions about the data used to support the claims.
From the Mayor’s Office twitter account: “The numbers don’t lie, folks! #Tallahassee has the fastest growing #economy per capita in #Florida! ”
From the OEV’s twitter account: “Tallahassee metro area has the fastest growing economy per capita in the state.”
From the City of Tallahassee retreat agenda: “the Tallahassee metropolitan statistical area (MSA) is the fastest growing economy (per capita) in the State of Florida.”
These claims are based on a comparison of the Gross Domestic Product per Capita released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis for 2016.
The data shows that the GDP per Capita for the Tallahassee Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is 3.8% and is the highest of all MSA’s in the state of Florida, outpacing the state (0.6%) and national (0.8%) 2016 GDP per Ccapita growth rates.
These numbers mean the economy in Tallahassee grew approximately six times as fast as the Florida economy in 2016.
However, the significant difference in the economic growth rate between Florida and Tallahassee is not consistent when you compare job growth ( Florida: 2.8%, Tallahassee: 2.1%) and taxable sales (Florida: 5.3%, Tallahassee: 4.0%) during 2016.
The “fastest growing” claims, based on 2016 numbers, also come in the face of more recent information that shows Tallahassee is lagging when compared to other cities in the state of Florida in job growth, real estate sales, and consumer spending.
From October 2016 to October 2017, when comparing Florida’s 22 MSA’s, Tallahassee ranks 22nd in job growth, 14th in the growth of single family homes sales, and 13th in retail sales growth.
Based on these facts we did some research and placed a call to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
This is what we found.
First, the 3.8% growth in the GDP number is driven mostly by the finance component of the GDP calculation. The finance component of the GDP calculation includes economic activity associated with Federal Reserve banks, securities, commodity contracts, insurance carriers, funds, trusts, and other financial vehicles.
This component increased by a whopping 38% – approximately $280 million – from 2015 to 2016. This growth accounts for approximately 30%-40% of the 3.8% per capita growth rate.
So why did this component grow so much in Tallahassee? What does this growth mean for the local economy? Where are the tangible benefits of this growth in Tallahassee?
These are the questions that are currently being researched by officials at the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
TR also called the Office of Economic Vitality, but OEV was not prepared to provide answers to our questions. OEV said they would research the issue.