This week, Florida TaxWatch (FTW) released “Beyond the Pandemic: Long-Term Changes and Challenges for Florida’s Workforce,” the third installment in the taxpayer research institute’s COVID-19 Legacy Series.
The report highlights current workforce trends and the long-term ramifications for Florida’s future talent pipeline and workforce development, as well as the state’s economic growth and fiscal sustainability.
Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro weighed in on the report on Thursday.
“Recently, remote work has become ubiquitous across the nation and here in Florida. Before the pandemic, remote workers comprised less than seven percent of the state’s workforce, but by the latter half of last year, they accounted for nearly 32 percent. As the foundational aspects of the workforce continue to evolve, Florida TaxWatch encourages policymakers to consider how the future of work is transforming, while rethinking the traditional metrics that have typified economic development in order to adapt to the changing times,” Calabro said.
Nationally, the percentage of all Americans working remotely jumped from roughly 6 percent in 2019 to almost 37 percent in 2020. The economic impact of this trend is compounded by the accelerated adoption of automation and artificial intelligence, which, even before the onset of the pandemic, was projected to impact some 4.5 million U.S. jobs in the next decade.
While convenient in some respects, a more sustained shift to remote work raises a number of concerns, including implications for long-term productivity, and significant changes to the amount of commercial and residential property needed for office space will certainly impact the state’s real estate sector. Studies estimate that approximately 20 percent of business travel will not resume post-pandemic, with companies opting for videoconferencing and virtual meetings instead, which could result in hotels, restaurants, transit, and other local businesses across Florida taking an economic hit.
The rise of technological advancements following large-scale recessions is not a new feature of the cyclical economy, but what differentiates the recent recession from those prior is the pandemic’s universality. Across all sectors, technological innovation was a means of survival, rather than competitive advantage – a way to continue operations while also mitigating public health risks. Looking ahead, FTW predicts companies will increasingly prioritize capital investment in new technologies to prepare for future disruptions, like natural disasters, trade disputes, and cyberattacks.
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