UNF manufacturers survey shows cautious optimism for Jacksonville economy

University economist says when businesses anticipate favorable conditions, “they are more likely to invest in expanding their operations.”

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  • | 11:56 a.m. December 7, 2023
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A monthly survey of Jacksonville manufacturers by the University of North Florida’s Local Economic Indicators Project showed stability in the Northeast Florida economy but with a cautiously optimistic outlook.

A purchasing manager’s index derived from UNF’s Jacksonville Economic Monitoring Survey fell slightly from 51 in October to 50 in November.

That number indicates stability, with an index above 50 signaling expansion and an index below 50 showing contraction.

However, several key individual indicators in the index were above 50, a signal of an optimistic outlook, UNF economist Albert Loh said in the monthly report.

For example, the Business Activity Outlook rose by 2 points to 54 last month.

Albert Loh, University of North Florida professor of economics and director of the school’s Local Economic Indicators Project. He created a measure of the area economy called the Jacksonville Economic Monitoring Survey, or JEMS.
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“This upward trend in the index reflects an increase in confidence among manufacturers in the region, potentially driven by current market conditions and positive sales trends, including the annual holiday uptick,” Loh said.

“This optimism can be a self-reinforcing driver of economic growth. When businesses anticipate favorable market conditions, they are more likely to invest in expanding their operations, innovate, and hire more staff, contributing to overall economic vitality,” he said.

Another good sign was the Employment Index, which fell by a point to 53. But an index above 50 means more manufacturers are planning to add jobs.

“This continued expansion suggests that manufacturers are confident enough in their business prospects to maintain or increase their workforce,” Loh said.

The national purchasing manager’s index from the Institute for Supply Management was unchanged at 46.7 in November, but the reading below 50 indicates a contraction in the U.S. economy.

Loh said the institute’s report showed expansion in specific sectors nationally but not broad-based.

“Additionally, the ISM report notes that companies are meeting customer demand, and inventories are on the higher side, which could indicate a buildup of unsold goods, possibly leading to reduced future production,” he said.

“These indicators suggest a more resilient local manufacturing environment than the national trend, with businesses adjusting to market demands and maintaining steady operational and employment levels,” Loh said. 



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