Taxable sales in Florida decrease for the first time in about 50 years; Miami-Dade fares slightly better than most in state with help of international business growth
By Jacquelyn Weiner
Fiscal 2008 taxable sales declined 5.4% statewide for the first drop in nearly half a century, while Miami-Dade fared a bit better with a decline of 2.6%, state officials say.
In an indication of the statewide economic distress, the Florida Department of Revenue said taxable sales in the state dropped from $339.1 billion in fiscal 2007 to $320.9 billion in fiscal '08.
"We always had a higher level of taxable sales than the year before," said Frank Williams, the department's chief economist. "This past year is the first year statewide that sales tax collections went negative."
Historical data on state taxable sales dates to 1964, he said. The state's fiscal year runs from July to June.
Miami-Dade County showed a drop in taxable sales from $39.9 billion in fiscal '07 to $38.8 billion in fiscal '08.
"Miami's outperforming statewide in everything except construction-related activity," Mr. Williams said.
Building investment in Miami fell 19.8% in May from May 2007, compared to the statewide 10.9% decrease, according to data from the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, a research arm of the Florida Legislature.
"Construction has been a major force in Florida's economy for the past five or six years and, of course, that's been shut down," said Peter Thompson, an economist with Florida International University.
And with the hard hits construction and home sales have taken, along with increased unemployment, Floridians are less likely to spend, he said.
Manuel Lasaga, president of StratInfo, a Miami economics and finance consulting firm, said Miami-Dade is somewhat sheltered from the state's recession because of its international appeal.
The growth of international business, he said, is "acting like a shock absorber to our economy."