Collier EBCS: First Quarter 2023 Report
While at the national level we see signs of the economy slowing down, no recession has been recorded in 2022. Labor market conditions remain strong and labor force participation rate continues to track beneath pre-Covid levels. Inflation is cooling off in many fronts, but still not at the Fed’s target nor for a sustained desired period, meaning interest rates will remain higher but not expected to grow at the same rate experienced in 2022.
The Collier County Executive Business Climate Index (EBCI) slipped in the first quarter of 2023 largely due to perception of economic conditions, as both the Current Economic Conditions and Future Economic Conditions components dipped from the previous quarter. Overall, six of the 7 components saw declines when compared to the fourth quarter of 2022. This is a contrast from Lee County, where executives believe that better times are ahead as future economic and industry conditions measures were not affected in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, and continued to grow from the third quarter of 2022. Only Current Hiring Trends, saw an increase in the first quarter of 2023. which is in line with the SWFL season.
This quarter, the survey also asked questions relating to finding qualified workers. Respondents signaled a difficulty in finding qualified workers over the past three months and over the last 12 months. Rising housing costs have likely played a significant role in the inability to find qualified workers, inhibiting the ability to attract talent from outside the region, resulting in a shrinking labor pool. Nearly all of the respondents (97 percent) indicated that they offered on-the-job training to their employees, and most offered mentoring from more senior staff. Reliability and self-discipline were identified by executives as the most important soft skills for their business, followed by reasoning and problem solving.
Seasonality played a somewhat or very important role for 36 percent of executives when considering part-time employment, while 33 percent said it was somewhat or very important for full-time employment. This is reflected in what we see in the labor force data reported for the county each month, as the county historically sees employment peak in March and bottom out in August.
We would like to thank all of the executives that participated in our survey. Without your continued feedback each quarter, our surveys would not be possible. Furthermore, we would also like to thank our sponsors, Collier County Government and the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, for helping make the survey happen.