"A boom it is not, but the trends look positive for the local business and economic climate; at least more so than what we have seen since 2008," according to its quarterly economic newsletter, LEIPLINE.
"I think we're well-positioned," said UNF economist Paul Mason.
"We're getting some jobs back – the help-wanted numbers are up," he said.
The LEIPLINE newsletter generally serves as a review of the latest economic data, both locally and nationally. However, the latest quarterly newsletter has a new twist: it now includes predictions of local economic indicators for the next few months.
The forecast shows the unemployment rate in the Jacksonville area dropping over the next few months, which Mason said is a "natural progression."
Seasonal trends, such as students heading back to school and out of the workforce and businesses gearing up for the holiday season, tend to lower unemployment in the fall months, he said.
The latest data for the Jacksonville metropolitan area showed the unemployment rate in July was a seasonally adjusted 6.64 percent, little changed from March, LEIPLINE said. However, it forecasts the rate dropping to 5.75 percent by October.
Another key indicator compiled by LEIP, the consumer price index for the Jacksonville area, rose for seven straight months from December 2012 through June, but it declined in July.
However, the latest newsletter forecasts that the index will start rising again, suggesting an inflation rate of about 4 percent for the year. That would be the highest inflation rate since LEIP began collecting data in 2002.
"The primary reason for higher price growth in Jacksonville than the nation as a whole has been the housing recovery," LEIPLINE said.
Sudden changes in gasoline prices can have a big impact on the consumer price index, such as last week's spike attributed to concerns over possible U.S. military action in Syria. However, Mason said those types of events do not affect the long-term inflation outlook.
World events can have a big impact on the stock markets, making it even more difficult to predict the direction of stocks. However, LEIPLINE is forecasting a continued increase in stock prices for Jacksonville-area companies in the next few months.
"The last four months have been good ones for local stocks and our estimates suggest that the growth will continue," it said.
LEIP's index of leading economic indicators for the Jacksonville area is also expected to show a small increase through October, "which bodes reasonably well for the Christmas season," it said.
The Jacksonville economy is outperforming the national economy, according to LEIPLINE.
"The bottom line is that the national economy is continuing to recover, but very slowly. Foreign conditions are not helping, oil producers and refiners (not to mention speculators) are not helping, government programs are doing much worse than not helping, and those who work for a living (a shrinking percentage of the population) are seeing their standards of living decline," LEIPLINE said.
"Despite these roadblocks, the private sector is working hard to come back to a greater level of normalcy. There is some positive progress," it said.
LEIPLINE has a more positive tone about the Jacksonville area economy.
"Despite potential concerns on the horizon, the second quarter of 2013 showed signs that suggest some optimism. Local stocks are performing better, which may suggest expansion and increased employment, which is reflected in the unemployment rates," it said.
"Nobody wants to pay higher prices for goods and services, but the reality is that it has been many years since sellers felt comfortable raising prices because of consumer optimism and increased production and growth," it said.
"The escalated levels of local inflation, if they follow past historical trends, recommend that consumers are buying more, business firms are expanding and wages are rising to improve standards of living. Even the LEI (leading economic indicators) is suggesting more sustained improvement in the next few months."
As the year moves on, the data from the University of North Florida's Local Economic Indicators Project is painting a more and more optimistic picture for the Jacksonville area.