Thursday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today
Florida’s $23 billion freelance economy is booming, study says
Florida's weather and outdoor amenities, like St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park, are part of what has attracted remote workers during the pandemic, according to a new survey by freelance marketplace Fiverr. Tampa Bay, Miami and Orlando all rank among the nation's fastest-growing markets for independent workers since 2016. Overall, the nation’s estimated 6.3 million independent workers generated $247 billion in revenue in 2021, up from $234 billion in 2016. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
The biggest wave of Cuban migrants arriving in U.S. since 1980 is driving policy changes
About 115,000 Cubans — more than one percent of the island’s population — have left their homeland fleeing poverty and repression and reached the U.S. in the past seven months, a mass migration wave on a scale not seen in four decades that has prompted recent changes in U.S. policy and provided the Cuban government an escape valve following unprecedented protests last year. [Source: Miami Herald]
Florida’s median home price soars to $410,000; affordability a statewide crisis
The median home price in Florida hit $410,000 in April, according to a report from the Florida Realtors trade group, further eroding the options for working-class residents to find housing. All of Florida’s 22 metropolitan statistical areas experienced an increase in home prices over the past year, most in double digits, with prices continuing to rise. The statewide year-over-year increase was 21.8% percent, the report found. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
Florida wildlife officials say some manatee food growing
Wildlife officials working to prevent threatened Florida manatees from starving to death say they're encouraged that some of the marine mammals' favorite food is growing naturally in a key area. Seagrasses have been found growing recently in small areas of the Indian River Lagoon along Florida's east coast where chronic pollution has wiped out much of it, officials said on a Wednesday conference call. [Source: AP]
Citrus coalition urges growers to vote against 'box tax'
Florida citrus growers are pushing back against a tax they’ve been paying to fund research they argue hasn’t, and doesn’t, benefit them. Over many years and $180 million later, research to reduce or eradicate citrus greening has done neither, they argue. In November 1991, Florida Citrus Growers voted to enact a Citrus Research Order that imposed a tax on every box of citrus produced, except for limes, to fund the Citrus Research and Development Foundation. [Source: The Center Square]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› JEA electric customers could see 1.5% rate hike in 2023
JEA officials say electric customers likely will see a 1.5% base rate increase beginning in April 2023. The city-owned electric and water utility included the estimated rate hike in its 2023 fiscal year budget approved May 24 by the JEA board. JEA also expects a 17% rise in 2023 in the cost of fuel to generate power, an expense that is passed directly to utility customers.
› Hillsborough commissioners: Ferry could sail without Pinellas support
The Cross Bay Ferry could set sail in the fall with Pinellas County left ashore, two Hillsborough County commissioners said. “That’s what I’m supporting,” said Commissioner Pat Kemp. “I’m not willing to see this whole thing go down the drain just because they (Pinellas County officials) take their ball and go home,” said Commissioner Mariella Smith.
› ‘Our town is growing so fast’: How Boca Raton is dealing with hard-to-find parking downtown
More parking meters are coming to one of South Florida’s fastest-growing downtowns, Boca Raton’s, as the destination keeps luring even more visitors to its stores and restaurants. The downtown has gained more than 2,000 new apartments and condos in recent years, and hundreds of additional hotel rooms, while seeing an influx of newcomers who now call it home. As a result, the rising demand for parking has upset some people — to the point the city has been working to fix the problem.
› Seminole faces challenges in hiring, retaining employees
Seminole, like local governments across the country, faces employee shortages and competition with other public agencies and the private sector in recruiting top workers — including firefighters, planners, civil engineers, road crews and law enforcement officers. Faced with nearly 1,300 open positions in March, Orange County began offering sign-on bonuses to lure new employees, longevity rewards to longtime workers and referral incentives to employees who recruit job candidates.
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