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Florida economist Dr. Jerry Parrish speaks at FPL Economic Symposium

Northwest Florida economy posed to do well, economist says
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MIRAMAR BEACH — “We’re coming back.”

That was the crux of the message delivered Tuesday by Jerry Parrish, an economist with the Florida Institute of Government at Florida State University, as he spoke to a crowd of hundreds of business, government and civic leaders at the Florida Power & Light Northwest Florida Economic Symposium at the Baytowne Conference Center at Sandestin.

“We’re recovering from COVID impacts,” said Parrish, who added that moving forward, Florida is “going to be growing jobs faster than the US rate, because Florida has made itself an attractive place for business.”

One way to improve an area’s economy is to increase its population, as he noted his prediction is that 850 people a day will now move to Florida.

For Northwest Florida, those population prospects are particularly bright, Parrish said.

Citing a University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research report delineating where the next 4 million people coming to Florida will settle — a number projected to be reached sometime between 2030 and 2035 — Parrish noted that Walton County will be the fourth-ranked while choice Santa Rosa County will be 10th.

Jerry Parrish, an economist with the Florida Institute of Government at Florida State University, shows a chart with population changes across the United States.  Darker blue indicates heavy growth.  He was speaking at the 2022 Florida Power & Light Northwest Florida Economic Symposium at the Baytowne Conference Center at Sandestin.

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Walton will, in fact, be among the four counties that attract at least a part of nearly 40% of that anticipated growth, according to the data presented by Parrish.

Those people, along with those who are already in the area, will find jobs in a host of career fields, from healthcare to transportation to warehousing and agriculture to an array of technical and professional fields, and command average annual salaries of nearly $60,000, according to data prepared for Parrish by the University of West Florida Haas Center.

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