Coronavirus could threaten Florida economy, experts warn

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A worker wearing protective gears sprays disinfectant as a precaution on a train against the new coronavirus at Suseo Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. China and South Korea on Tuesday reported more cases of a new viral illness that has been concentrated in North Asia but is causing global worry as clusters grow in the Middle East and Europe. (Lee Ji-eun/Yonhap via AP)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida officials are warning the public about threats to the state economy stemming from coronavirus.

The Florida Chamber Foundation issued a statement Tuesday, quoting Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish, who said that residents should be “concerned but not panicked” about the coronavirus’ threats on Florida’s economy.

The statement came after the Dow dropped by more than 1,000 points on Monday.

“Companies are cutting their GDP forecasts, 30-year mortgages are at an eight-year low, manufacturers are idling their factories because of supply chain issues,” Parrish said in his Florida By The Numbers report. “All of this is having an effect on Florida’s economy, and it could continue. This is certainly a concern, but it’s not anything to panic about.”

Parrish outlined vulnerable industries, which include international travelers. Florida hosted 10.8 million overseas visitors and 3.5 million travelers from Canada visited Florida in 2018, according to Visit Florida. 

Another vulnerable industry was cruise passengers – an industry that brings more than 7 million visitors to Florida. The Sunshine State accounts for more than 59 percent of all cruise ship embarkations.

Port Tampa Bay alone saw nearly 600,000 cruise line passengers in 2018, according to a biennial study from Cruise Lines International Association.

Crusie ship embarkations out of Port Tampa

Hover over the bars to see the numbers.

Source: Cruise Lines International Association

Other vulnerable industries in Florida include imports and exports, as well as manufacturing jobs.

“An inversion of the yield curve has been a reliable, but not perfect signal, of a future recession,” Parrish said. “The probability of Florida being in a recession over the next nine months has now increased to 24.1 percent.”

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