SUMMARY

  • Sales in the Orlando region increased by more than inflation in 2023 as businesses and consumers shrugged off economic uncertainty.
  • Strong spending has been supported by a robust labor market, which added an estimated 27,100 jobs in 2023 to bring total gains over the last two years to more than 100,000 new jobs.
  • As employment growth now cools and demand for labor eases, Orlando is one of just a handful of large U.S. regions to maintain historically low unemployment alongside robust labor expansion.
  • Orlando International Airport was Florida’s busiest airport in 2023, welcoming 57.7 passengers – 5.4 million more than Miami International.
  • Businesses surveyed by the Partnership continue to report a first-quarter surge in confidence as the outlook for the national economy improves and they themselves see growth.
  • Staffing challenges and cost pressures both appear to be easing, but sector-specific concerns are on the rise.
  • The U.S. economy defied all expectations in 2023 and talk of recession is slowly disappearing. However, a period of slower growth is likely in 2024.
  • Growth in the local market should ensure ongoing opportunity for Orlando businesses as the region and state continue to outperform the national economy.

RECENT ECONOMIC DATA

SALES

Gross sales in the Orlando MSA increased 6.2% between 2022 and 2023 as area businesses benefited from both higher prices and consumer resilience. Inflation was 3.7% over the same period.

JOB GROWTH

Final confirmation of Orlando’s job gain in 2023 - currently estimated at 27,100 jobs - will arrive in early March. However, preliminary data suggest only manufacturing and retail reported higher job growth in 2023 than in 2022 as the labor market continues to cool.

PAYROLL EMPLOYMENT

Even as growth normalizes, Orlando’s status as Florida’s growth center remains. The region’s employment base has expanded by more than any other large region in the state over the last decade and is projected to do so again over the next decade.

JOB POSTINGS

Overall demand for labor continues to ease. Job postings for exclusively remote jobs are falling disproportionately as hybrid work becomes the preferred practice, dropping to just 4% of all job postings at the end of 2023.

LABOR FORCE GROWTH

Among the 30 most populous regions in the U.S, Orlando region was one of just three (alongside Austin and San Antonio) to close 2023 with unemployment at 3% or below and labor force expansion exceeding 2%.

RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION

Almost 25,000 housing units were permitted in 2023, down 10% from 2022 as multi-family activity hit its lowest level since 2017. Limited supply of new units continue to support the resale market, which in January reported its first year-over-year increase in sales since May 2022.

TRANSPORTATION

Orlando International Airport welcomed 57.7 million passengers in 2023 as it retained its title as Florida’s busiest airport. Domestic passenger volume hit another all-time high, although international visitation fell just short of its 2019 peak.

OUTLOOK

Slower growth is emerging as the new consensus forecast for the U.S. economy in 2024, with an expectation consumer spending will moderate and uncertainty around future interest rate cuts will dampen business investment. Florida and Orlando are expected to continue to outperform the national economy.

CURRENT BUSINESS SENTIMENT

PERFORMANCE & EXPECTATIONS

Area businesses responding to the OEP’s Orlando Business Conditions Survey continue to report a first-quarter surge in confidence. Almost 3 in 4 (73%) respondents in February indicated they believe their own business will strengthen over the next 3 months, with their own recent strong performance and improving national conditions cited as key reasons. Expectations around revenue and profitability are most robust.

CHALLENGES

Staffing challenges and cost pressures appear to be easing. The 3-month period ending February 2024 marked the first time since the survey’s inception that staffing was not the most common issue reported by area employers as companies increasingly flagged sector-specific concerns.

MONTHLY INDICATORS