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What is the economy in Florida?

Updated time: 17 Sep, 2021, 16:27 (UTC+08:00)

Florida is one of the United States' economic cornerstones. It has the third-largest population and the fourth biggest economy. Compared to other countries, its GDP ( $1.1 trillion in 2019) is even ranked among the top 20, above Turkey, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, and Argentina. Florida's economy has two main pillars: tourism and agriculture. Although the Covid pandemic has hit the sunshine state’s tourism hard, it still projected strong economic growth in the future.

Jacksonville downtown - Florida

Jacksonville downtown - Florida

What is Florida's economy based on?

Florida attracts tourists from around the world. Florida's economy is also based on international trade, agriculture, aerospace and aviation, and life sciences. As stated before, Florida had a GDP of $1.1 trillion and a $91.1 billion budget in 2019, ranked fourth only behind California, Texas, and New York.

1. Tourism

Tourism contributed $85.9 billion to Florida GDP growth in 2020, even during the Covid pandemic. Florida is famous for its 663 miles of long beautiful beaches with 2,200 miles of shoreline. Retailers also nab $16 billion on purchases from these visitors as well, not just hotels, resorts and restaurants.

Not only that, the sunshine state has eight of the top 20 amusement parks in North America and three out of the top 20 water parks in the world. Walt Disney World alone employs up to 75,000 employees, making it the largest single-site employer in the nation. In turn, this army of amusement park employees serves a huge number of visitors each year. A recorded 20.45 million people passed through Disney World’s gate, almost as high as Florida’s population (20.98 million) in 2017.

According to a Cruise Lines International Association study, Florida alone welcomed 12.4 million passenger and crew visits, accounting for nearly half the United States in 2019. These passengers and crews spent over $1.2 billion during their time onshore, contributing to Florida economic growth.

2. Agriculture

Florida’s oranges and citrus have been famous nationwide since the 1970s. The state still accounts for 70% of the US production. This, in turn, leads to Florida being responsible for 90% of the entire country's orange juice supply. However, when looking at the statistics, Florida is surprisingly number one in international meat export, beef to be precise. It is the home state to nine top beef producers of the country. Orange is the state's biggest agricultural output, but meat is the state’s biggest agricultural export.

Sunny green farm in Florida

Sunny green farm in Florida

The agriculture industry contributes on average $131 billion to the Florida economic growth per year. The warmer climate prolongs the growing season, giving Florida an advantage over the other regions of the country.

With two-thirds of the surfaces being farmland, other top products are greenhouse and nursery products such as oranges, tomatoes, dairy products, and sugarcane. Ranked second for greenhouse and nursery products and also ranked second for fresh vegetables, the economy in Florida is indeed the powerhouse of the US agriculture industry.

3. International Trade

Florida is a major gateway between North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, making it one of the biggest international trading states of the US, after Texas, California, and Washington. This state accounts for approximately 17% of exports to Latin America and the Caribbean. Florida has four major cargo gateway ports conveniently positioned close to all companies in the area.

In 2019, the total exports from this state accounted for $56 billion of Florida economic growth. Top products being shipped include motor vehicles, aircraft, engines and parts, telecommunications equipment, computers and components, and gold. Agricultural products, seafood, livestock, minerals, forestry products, and oil and gas are also being pushed toward export by the local government. 

4. Aerospace and Aviation

There are more than 2000 aerospace and aviation companies in Florida, mainly in the northwest area. This has become a silicon valley for aviation and aerospace, limited not only to business but also to research and development, testing, and education. There are also 19 commercial airports, handling 10% of the entire country’s total passengers. Overall, an estimated $175 billion from this industry is contributed to Florida gdp growth.

Not just commercial flight, Florida’s aerospace industry is unrivaled when it comes to space. There are two active spaceports: Cape Canaveral Spaceport and the Cecil Field Spaceport. Eight private firms here are licensed to send rockets into space. These make Florida a leader in space exploration and travel.

5. Life Sciences

Florida is a famous hub for biomedical research institutes, pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Among these, numerous firms specialize in researching and producing new treatments, generics, nutraceuticals, and over-the-counter drugs. Florida’s number of FDA-registered medical device manufacturers is also the second-highest in the US.

6. Financial Services

Florida’s population has the highest income in the country so it is not surprising that top banks all invest heavily in Florida despite having no headquarters here. The local government also fosters a business-friendly environment with simple regulations, low tax rate and healthy market. This helps finance, insurance, and services firms prosper.

Investment opportunities in Florida

These are the top businesses, ranging from big to small, to invest in Florida.

Retail, wholesale and distribution

With a constant stream of visitors to the state as well as the advantages in international trading, this is one of the best businesses to invest in Florida. The sunshine state’s agriculture also acts as a healthy supplier for this type of business.

Health centric products

With the state being famous for its life science industry, the population over there is very concerned about their daily consumption of food and beverage. Any product that is good for health can easily tap into this huge consumer base. Other products such as fitness and life coaches can also be investment opportunities in Florida.

Real estate

With a steady growth of the job market and the ongoing real estate development, this is the ideal business to invest in Florida. Real estate pricing has been on the rise in Florida for many years. The climate change problem leading to rising sea levels also contributes to the rising real estate price each year.

Aerial view of residential area in Miami - Florida

Aerial view of residential area in Miami - Florida

Finance services

As stated before, there are many banks operating intensively in Florida due to its rich population. Therefore, financial services are very welcomed here. Anything from investment, property management to handling can be good investment opportunities in Florida.


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