What the data shows: Taxable sales in the business-investment category in November included sales of office equipment, computers, industrial machinery, hotel and restaurant supplies, transportation equipment, paper and packaging materials, feed and seed, medical supplies. It also included sales from machine shops and commercial rentals. The latest data is from November.
What it means: Business investment continues to decline on an annual percentage basis in every area of the Gulf Coast. Fort Myers, Sarasota and Naples outpaced the statewide decline (-9.5%), but fared better than harder-hit areas such as Panama City (-19%), Ocala (-16.9%) and Lakeland (-13.5%). Melbourne had the smallest annual decline in percentage terms (-0.9%).
Forecast: Business investment is an important gauge of corporate confidence and annual percentage declines moderated into the fall. For example, business investment in Fort Myers dropped 20% in August on an annual percentage change basis but fell a smaller 12.5% in November. In fact, every area of the Gulf Coast generally witnessed smaller drops in business investment in November than in prior months, suggesting a stabilization trend. While some of that may be due to the area's seasonal business, it's another indicator that a recovery may be budding and the worst is over.
($ in millions)
Business % Annual
Area investment change
Fort Myers $105.2 -12.5%
Sarasota $123.5 -10.6%
Naples $63.1 -10.2%
Tampa $491.8 -8.6%
Punta Gorda $19.6 -3.7%
Source: Florida Legislature Office of Economic and Demographic Research