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1st Quarter 2020


Up 1,577 from Q1 2019

Employment was down 1.4% from Q4 2019 while year-over-year employment levels have increased 17 quarters in a row.
Unemployment Claims


1st Quarter 2020


2,573 more than in Q1 2019

Initial Claims for Unemployment Compensation in Q1 2020 were the most for any quarter since Q3 2011 and 2.6 times higher than the Q1 average of 1,436 over the past five years.


1st Quarter 2020


4 more than in Q1 2019

New Single-Family Construction Permits in Leon County increased 1.9% from Q4 2019, and were 5.4% lower than the Q1 average of 173 during 2015 to 2019.


4th Quarter 2019


Up $17,450 from Q4 2018

Median Sales Price was up 1.3% from Q3 2019, has risen in 11 of the past 20 consecutive quarters in the MSA, and has been lower than the statewide median sales price since Q4 2013.
Tourism: Total Visitors


Q1 FY 2020


Down 79,545 from Q1 of FY 2019

Total Visitors in Leon County decreased 7.8% from Q4 FY 2019. Q1 FY 2020 was 7.7% lower than the Q1 average of 528,404 during FY 2015 to FY 2019.


1st Quarter 2020


20,794 fewer than in Q1 2019

TLH Passengers in Q1 2020 were down 23.1% from Q4 2019, but still 2% higher than the Q1 average of 176,008 during 2015-2019.
Unemployment Rate


1st Quarter 2020


Unchanged from Q1  2019

For the first time since Q3 2011, MSA 3-month average Unemployment Rate was not lower than the same quarter of the prior year.


3rd Quarter 2019


$35 more than in Q3 2018

Average Weekly Wage 4-quarter moving average has increased in all but one quarter since 2014, comparing same quarter of the prior year.


1st Quarter 2020


41 fewer than in Q1 2019

Mortgage Foreclosures in Leon County decreased 9% from Q4 2019, and were 44% below the Q1 average of 138 during 2015-2019.


1st Quarter 2020

+1.7 pts.

Up from 4.0% in Q1 of 2019

Office Vacancy fell 1.0 points from 6.7% in Q4 2019, but was the highest for any Q1 since 2016, when it was 6.6%.
Industrial Vacancy Rate


1st Quarter 2020

+0.4 pts.

Up from 3.0% in Q1 of 2019

Industrial Vacancy rose 1.0 points from 2.4% in Q4 2019, and was the highest for any Q1 since 2017, when it was 5.0%.


1st Quarter 2020


Up 1,675 from Q1 2019

MSA average monthly Labor Force was down 0.7% from Q4 2019. Labor Force has grown 16 of the past 20 consecutive quarters, comparing same quarter of the prior year.

$1.34 B

4th Quarter 2019


Down $5.1 M from Q4 2018

MSA Taxable Sales were down 0.6% from Q3 2019 and 10% higher than in Q3 2018, and have gone up in 13 of the past 20 quarters, comparing sales to the same quarter of the previous year.

* LEADING INDICATOR: may signal future changes; LAGGING INDICATOR: may confirm pattern already in progress; COINCIDENT INDICATOR: occurs in real time and clarifies condition of economy.

The terms leading, lagging, and coincident deal with the time horizon and not whether the economy is doing “better or worse” relative to somewhere else. Leading indicators are considered to point toward future events, are upstream in the process, and can give a heads-up for anticipated trends. Lagging indicators are seen as confirming a pattern in progress, and can only be known after the event because they are the outcomes of the leading factors that occur upstream. Coincident indicators occur in real-time and clarify the state of the economy. They tend to move in step with general economic trends and give a snapshot context of what is happening and how markets and economies are responding to the factors that affect their direction.

Where Are We?

Employment: Not much contrast yet compared to 2019; January and February mitigated a lackluster March. January employment was up 1.8% over Jan. 2019, and February was up 1.5% over Feb. 2019, while March was -0.7% compared to Mar. 2019. Depending on data revisions made to March and preliminary April data, there will likely be two consecutive months of deteriorating employment, which would show more obvious contrast compared to 2019.

Unemployment Claims: There were 2,978 claims made in March in the Tallahassee MSA, compared to 307 in February and 406 in January. The March total was about the same as the previous eight months combined—an order of magnitude difference in one month.

State level data from US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) likewise show a major surge in unemployment claims statewide. During the six weeks from mid-March to late April, according to BLS, there were nearly 1.6 million initial claims for unemployment insurance in Florida, about the same as the combined total of the prior 219 weeks (1/2/2016 to 3/7/2020). As of the week ending April 18, 2020, continued claims for unemployment statewide totaled 540,554, the highest weekly amount in BLS data going back to 1987. Continued claims data is not available at the local level.

Tourism: The -14% dip in visitors compared to last year was for Q1 of FY 2020, which was October to December 2019, well before pandemic and quarantine affected local conditions. Visitor totals were only down 7.8% from the prior quarter. Direct expenditures of visitors were down just 6.2% compared to Q1 FY 2019, and only down 1.5% from the prior quarter.

Passengers: Lowest quarter since Q3 2017, but still higher than comparable quarter of Q1 in 2017. A good January and February somewhat offset a lackluster March. January was up 11% compared to Jan. 2019 and February was up 12% compared to Feb. 2019.


We’re seeing deterioration of economic conditions expressed in some of the leading indicators (e.g., Initial Claims for Unemployment), while the negative effects of COVID-19 quarantine have not been occurring long enough yet to adversely affect the lagging indicators (e.g., Office Vacancy Rate).

The relationship between leading and lagging indicators is apparent. Unemployment claims have increased immediately. Employment showed mediocre growth. While the unemployment rate does not show a precipitous rise, it does lag initial claims by almost a month.


If the labor market continues to deteriorate, we are likely to see more leading indicators worsen and as those conditions persist, the lagging indicators will confirm the trend. This could eventually result in higher rates of foreclosure, wage stagnation, increased vacancy rates, and a higher sustained unemployment rate. Taxable Sales data will very likely confirm reduced revenue projections.

We don’t know how much the Tallahassee metro area will mirror the State’s condition of recent months. Past performance tells us the local labor market does not peak as high nor dip as low as the State, and local labor market conditions generally lag the State trend by a month or two.

Expect a downward trend in the local economy in the near future, but it’s too soon to tell how long it will last, or how significant it will be.