As the holiday weekend commences, there is always a desire to provide hope for better days to come.
In my case, I’m happy to report the jobs outlook is improving. Volusia County’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.9% in November from 4.2% in October and 4.5% in November 2020. Employment was up more than 500 in past month and more than 15,000 since last year, according to the latest state report, based on household surveys.
The labor force in Volusia was at 261,518 in November compared to 246,839 a year ago while the number of unemployed workers was at 10,179, down from 11,113 last year.
Non-agricultural jobs were at 209,000 in Volusia-Flagler area in November, up 6,900 jobs or 3.4% from November 2020, according to the report and based on an employer survey. The leisure and hospitality sector led with 2,700 jobs followed by education and health services at 2,000 jobs. Manufacturing jobs were up 800 and construction was up 500 jobs. Transportation and warehousing (think Amazon) was up 400 jobs from last year. Of course, with so many more people shopping online, retail jobs were down 100.
Another area of concern is financial activities, which showed no growth, and the news didn’t get any better with the latest weekly bulletin of the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Bank of America is closing its office at 699 S. Nova Road and PNC Bank is closing its office at 128 E. Granada Blvd., both in Ormond Beach. Wells Fargo is closing its office at 2111 S. Ridgewood Ave. in South Daytona. With several vacant bank offices already, the banking industry is leaving a blight on the landscape. There are only so many Bank & Blues Clubs you can establish.
But as the labor force grows and the number of unemployed workers declines, there’s at least a little bit of reason to say Happy Holidays!
Inflation seems to be a frequent visitor for the hospitality industry. Bed tax collections in Volusia County were up 55.45% in October from October 2020 and up 49.76% from October 2019. About half of it is because there were more visitors with room occupancy up 20.5% to 56.5%, compared to 46.9% in October 2020. But the average daily room rate increased 29.3% to $129.45, compared to $100.10 in October 2020, according to the Daytona Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, which covers about 70 to 80 percent of the hospitality industry in Volusia.
Commercial real estate was flying off the shelves led by Joan of Arc, well, Joan of Arc FL LLC (actually Lafayette Communities of New York), buying a group of rental houses in Deltona and Orange City for about $6 million. A Phenix City, Ala., builder bought 91-acres site in the southeast quadrant of SR 442 and I-95 in Edgewater for $4.225 million (keep an eye on that one for a development plan). Belleair Development Group of Tampa bought the Office Depot property and adjacent vacant land in Ormond Beach for $3.9 million. Tampa investors bought industrial buildings at 5 Sanctuary Ave. in DeBary for $1.3 million. A California couple bought the industrial property at 405 N. Charles St. in Daytona Beach for $1.25 million. An Ormond Beach investor bought the strip center at 3751 S. Nova Road in Port Orange for $1.2 million. Tenants include Daytona Coins and BBQ Chick.
The drawing board also got a lot busier, including Project Epsilon, just east of Twin Lakes Medical Center on LPGA Blvd., which was planned for offices, but now is planned for an eight-building apartment complex plus clubhouse. Ormond Beach businessman Richard Maugeri, who just bought the land for $555,00, wants to put an 86-unit townhouse project called Edison Pointe at 947 Big Tree Road in South Daytona. Behind Kohl’s in Orange City, a 50,000-square-foot rehab hospital is planned. A 12,167-square-foot childcare facility was proposed for Lot 5 of the New Port Commercial Subdivision, the section behind 7-Eleven, Dunkin Donuts, etc., at Clyde Morris Boulevard and Reed Canal Road in Port Orange.
On a final note, they’re already moving in the construction trailers to build the Amazon distribution center at Bellevue Avenue and Williamson Boulevard in Daytona Beach.
Managing Editor Cecil G. Brumley has been tracking business and the economy in Volusia County for more than 24 years. Contact him at email@example.com (no hyphens) or follow him on Twitter @cecilbrumley.