Florida may have side-stepped the nationwide drag on job creation in December based on a report released Wednesday. The state added 25,230 private sector jobs in December, continuing its fastest pace of job growth since the economic recovery began. More from the Tampa Bay Times and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Florida ended 2013 once again as America's reigning foreclosure king, though amid the housing recovery new cases plunged, RealtyTrac data released Thursday shows. About 107,000 new foreclosures began last year in Florida, a 31 percent drop from 2012, as banks continued to tussle with homeowners in the aftermath of the housing bust. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
The Southeast saw economic growth pick up since the fall, giving it a slight edge in the latest Federal Reserve scorecard. This month’s Beige Book, released Wednesday, singled out the Atlanta and Chicago districts for reporting accelerating growth since the prior report, issued in early December. Within the Atlanta report, there were signs of encouragement and worry for Florida. [Source: Miami Herald]
Governor Rick Scott announced that, since January 2011, the number of juvenile arrests has dropped 23 percent statewide and the number of youth arrested for delinquency is down 24 percent – the lowest it has been since 1984. Full story...
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson announced Tuesday night that federal labor officials told him they will be in Tallahassee by week's end to "help fix" the state's troubled unemployment benefits website, CONNECT. Read more from the Tampa Bay Times and see also:
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Florida Trend seeks the Best Companies To Work For in Florida [Florida Trend]
Florida Trend is searching for Florida's best workplaces in the 6th annual Florida's Best Companies To Work For program. Participation in the program is free, and companies with at least 15 full-time, regular employees are eligible and encouraged to participate. But time is running out to register - January 24 is the deadline. Read more here or find out more about how to register at www.bestcompaniesfl.com.
› Lawmaker: Eliminate high-crime tax break [Orlando Sentinel]
A prominent Florida lawmaker wants to eliminate an incentive program meant to help high-crime communities, following a series of Orlando Sentinel stories that showed the tax breaks are subsidizing Universal Orlando and other businesses in prosperous areas.
› Column: South Florida still faces a need to diversify its economy [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
South Florida has prospered and suffered. Its economy has boomed and busted due to a reliance on real estate. The recent problems in the real estate sector served as a wake-up call, encouraging corporate leaders and politicians to develop a more diverse economy, one that will weather the turbulence associated with development.
› University of Tampa team plays ball in Cuba [Miami Herald]
The University of Tampa's 2013 NCAA Division II championship baseball team is in Cuba this week for a bit of baseball diplomacy. The Spartans aren’t in Cuba in any official capacity, but rather are on a people-to-people exchange — a type of trip that allows Americans to travel to Cuba despite the U.S. embargo.
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› Florida's first natural gas refueling station for trucks opens in Jacksonville [Florida Times-Union]
Jacksonville is now home to the state’s first filling station for vehicles running on liquid natural gas, an emerging technology fueled by the nation’s booming natural gas industry.
› Westgate sues workers who battled company in wage action [Orlando Sentinel]
A long-brewing legal battle between Westgate Resorts and its salespeople has escalated, with the Orlando-based time-share company suing the former employees to get back thousands of dollars in commissions it paid them years ago.
› Trains in snowy Chicago turned into Sarasota billboards [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
Hundreds of snow plows and salt spreaders were being deployed in Chicago this week as 40 mph gusts blew the white stuff around the city's streets. Reminding Chicagoans of what they are missing was a little slice of Southwest Florida -- on the walls of some of the city's train cars.
› Florida State University’s Online Programs Among Nation’s Best [WCTV]
Florida State University’s online graduate programs in nursing and business are among the nation’s best, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 Best Online Program Rankings.