County foresees continuation of robust economy

This has been a strong employment year for St. Lucie County.

“We’re a reflection of what’s occurring in other areas of the state and United States,” said Peter Tesch, president of the St. Lucie County Economic Development Council.

The council, which is a public-private partnership, just released its 2018 annual report. The report highlights three businesses that located to the county this year, along with nine that have expanded, among other positive economic signs.

Tesch said despite worrying national and international market fluctuations occurring at press time, he’s confident the county will continue to enjoy a vibrant economy though 2019.

“I see more of the same,” said Tesch. “Our project activity has never been so strong.”

St. Lucie Voice kicked off 2018 reporting a not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for the county at 5.1 percent. The state released its first monthly jobs report in March.

In this edition (see Page 6), we’re reporting a 3.7 percent not-seasonally-adjusted non-agricultural unemployment rate in November. The not-seasonally-adjusted rate tends to jump up in January as seasonal employment slows.

After the Great Recession and painfully slow recovery following the housing crash, St. Lucie’s not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate dipped below 5 percent in 2017. That was the first time in about a decade the county had hit what’s generally considered “full employment,” the unemployment rate at which all who can and want to work will find jobs in a reasonable time.

The county is now enjoying employment numbers it hasn’t seen since 2006, according to CareerSource Research Coast. Average wages also grew by the start of 2018. In 2016, the state reports, average wages in St. Lucie were around $38,700. By the end of 2017, that was up to slightly more than $40,000.

Tesch said 2017 saw several new businesses come in along with the expansions of existing businesses.

For example, Maverick Boat Group added 98 new jobs to its existing 273 in 2017. Radical Cosmetics opened a facility in Fort Pierce that added 75. The expansions and new businesses kept coming in 2018. For example, ABC Home Medical Supply, which moved to the area in ’17, is expanding with the prospect of adding about 100 jobs to the area. “(The economy is) becoming more diversified and it’s cutting across all industry sectors,” Tesch said.

What the strong employment growth also means is employers have to be on their best game to attract and keep talented workers. To help, the council is bringing back popular business speaker Phillip Van Hooser, author of “Leaders Ought to Know: 11 Ground Rules for Common Sense Leadership.”

“He’s coming back Jan. 23 and 24,” Tesch said. Hooser will present a seminar both days at Keiser University, 9400 SW Discovery Way on “Earning the Right to Be Heard: Mastering 21st Century Communication Skills.”

“We still have room and it’s not exclusive to EDC investors, but to everybody on the Treasure Coast,” Tesch said.

Tickets are $149 and $99 for additional attendees. Tickets include breakfast and lunch.

To see the report and get more about the seminar, visit

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