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An Economic Update For Polk County
In partnership with Florida Southern College, Central Florida Development Council presents this quarterly update of economic data and insights to drive strategic business decisions for your organization. Below, you will find a collection of the most recent information relevant to Polk County and our current business climate.

Published Quarterly by the Central Florida Development Council and Florida Southern College. 
Prepared by Jim Farrell, Ph.D., CFA, Florida Southern College.
Updated June, 2016

Polk County Taxable Sales

At the national level, GDP grew at an annualized rate of 0.8% for the 1st quarter after receiving a positive revision from 0.5%. The 4th quarter estimate from 2015 was revised upward as well, from 0.9% to 1.9%. We continue to struggle during the 1st quarter of the year, averaging 0.2% annualized growth over the past three years in comparison to 2.9% average annualized growth over the other 3 quarters.

The stock market has recovered from a slow start to the year. After losing 5% in January and nearly .5% in February, the S&P500 is up 2.5% YTD. The Federal Reserve has indicated that we should expect another interest rate increase soon. It is reasonable to expect that we may see a second increase before the end of the year as well. The April jobs number was steady, as nonfarm payroll employment increased by 160,000 while the unemployment rate held at 5.0%. The unemployment figure has been sitting comfortably in the usual “full-employment” range and the effects are being felt among discouraged workers, where the number has dropped by 188,000 (24.8%) since last April. This, in combination with a year-over-year increase in the Labor Force Participation rate is a positive sign for the economy.

Taxable Sales (Seasonally Adjusted, in Millions)

During the 1st quarter of 2016, Polk County’s Taxable Sales contracted slightly at a rate of 0.7%, after adjusting for seasonality. Since the 1st quarter of 2015, Taxable Sales have grown 6.5%, with the bulk of the growth coming in the 2nd and 4th quarters of the year. With a national inflation rate (CPI) of 0.9% from March 2015 to March 2016, Polk County’s real growth was substantial and indicative of economic improvement.

Hotel/Motel Sales

Hotel/Motel Sales continue to grow as well, with 14.7% growth since the 1st quarter of 2015. The seasonally-adjusted quarterly growth for the 1st quarter was 10.0%. 

Hotel/Motel Sales (Seasonally Adjusted, in Millions)

Industrial Electricity Usage

Seasonally-adjusted industrial electricity usage (as sold by Lakeland Electric) increased by 2.8% during the 1st quarter, while year-over-year growth was 2.1% since the 1st quarter of 2015

Industrial Kilowatt Hours (Seasonally Adjusted, in Millions)


Residential Electric Accounts

The number of residential electric accounts serviced by Lakeland Electric held steady for the 1st quarter once seasonality was accounted for. This brought the year-over-year growth to 1.4%.  

Residential Electric Accounts (Seasonally Adjusted, in Thousands)

Polk County Labor Force

The Polk County Labor Force increased slightly during the 1st quarter, gaining 0.4% on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Overall, there was an increase of 1.26% in Labor Force for the 12 months ended with the 1st quarter 2016. Polk County pulled even with Florida and the nation in Labor Force growth after trailing during 2015.

Employment levels increased 0.4% during the 1st quarter and are 2.3% higher than the 1st quarter of 2015 on a seasonally-adjusted basis. 

Employment Levels (Seasonally Adjusted)

Building Permits and Construction Costs

According to the US Census Survey, building permits on single family homes for the 1st quarter increased 20.5% from 505 to 609 over the 1st quarter 2015, while anticipated construction expenditures were up 20.2% year-over-year. The largest increase came from multifamily permits with 384 permits for structures with 5+ units and an associated $29.5M in anticipated expenditures. This is a significant uptick in activity from 2015 which saw only 28 permits requested.

Building Permits and Construction Costs


Polk County Median Homes

According to Zillow, for the month ended March 31st, median residential sales price increased to $148,800, an increase of 2.4% for the quarter. This brings the 12 month increase in sales price to 3.2%. 

Polk County Median Homes

Homes Sold

There were 2331 homes sold during the 1st quarter, this reflects a slight decline (0.2%) from 1st quarter 2015

Homes Sold


The improvements in the labor market and taxable sales are indicative of our steady recovery. The leveling-off in the secondary real estate market is healthy given the recovery so far and the potential increase multifamily housing is encourage and should help fill a gap in our economy.



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  • 5908 Hillside Heights Dr., Lakeland, FL 33812
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