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Survey reveals biggest threats to Florida’s economy

TAMPA, Fla. -- Although fewer Floridians have cited the economy and jobs as the state’s most pressing issue, anxieties about Florida’s economy persist, according to the Sunshine State Survey.

The Sunshine State Survey asked what citizens see as the biggest threat to Florida’s economy, and 24 percent said loss of jobs/unemployment was the biggest threat, followed by government waste and inefficiency (14 percent), undocumented residents and workers (12 percent), industry leaving the state (8 percent), and rules and regulations hampering business start-ups (8 percent).

Susan MacManus, Ph.D., survey director and distinguished university professor at the University of South Florida College of Arts and Sciences, presented the Sunshine State Survey’s economic findings to members of the press on Sept. 16.

“The public remains somewhat divided about how best to grow jobs and expand the economy,” MacManus said.

Floridians weighed in on the best way to attract new economic development to the Sunshine State. Nearly half of the respondents (44 percent) favored tax breaks/cash payments (23 percent) or tax and regulatory relief (21 percent) to help businesses expand. More than one-fifth (21 percent) thinks it is best to invest in education and training, and another 17 percent believe that improving the state’s infrastructure, especially transportation, is a way to attract new economic development to Florida.

MacManus said this should be good news to chambers of commerce across the state because their message is getting through to the public at large.

Despite concerns about loss of jobs/unemployment, Floridians gave the state a higher rating for job creation compared to 2012. The “good” and “excellent” rating rose from 11 percent to 31 percent, while the “poor” rating dropped from 51 percent in 2012 to 27 percent in 2014.

The survey also gauged what is stressing Floridians’ household finances. There has been an increase in the citation of key household expenses since the 2012 survey: the cost of living (+3 percent), utilities (+3 percent), price increases for basics (+2 percent), health care costs (+2 percent), and home/property insurance (+2 percent).

“Food costs are really rising, and that’s affecting a lot of households, specifically among retirees and the middle class,” MacManus said.

The Data Release 2 Report, including crosstabs, can be found at

MacManus will hold another teleconference for members of the media on Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 10 a.m. to release survey results that focus on K-12 and higher education issues. A media advisory with more information will be sent on Monday, Sept. 22.

The Sunshine State Survey is the most anticipated annual survey of Floridians on a wide range of issues affecting the state of Florida and serves as our state leaders’ report card. Conducted by the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Florida and Nielsen, this survey has become a critical source of citizen opinions on key issues facing this rapidly changing state--soon to be the nation's third largest. The series of questions asked annually since 2006 provides leaders and academics in the public, private and nonprofit sectors with much-needed trend line data, while questions on newly-emerging issues give leaders an invaluable baseline look at where a wide cross-section of our state's residents stand on them.


Filed under:Arts and Sciences Government and International Affairs    
Contact:Angela Crist,, 813.857.8801