June Job Numbers Show Improvement

Brevard County gained 12,809 jobs from May to June which resulted in an improvement of 3.1 percentage points in the percent unemployed, dropping the unemployment rate from 11.6% to 8.5%. There were 252,245 jobs on a labor force base of 275,711. This is compared to 275,572 jobs in June, 2019 on a labor force of 285,268 and an unemployment rate of 3.4%

Peter Cranis, Executive Director of the Space Coast Office of Tourism believes much of the improvement in the unemployment rate is due to the reopening of the tourism economy including hotels and restaurants. “Tourism is the 4th largest employer in Brevard, but we took a disproportionate hit when the economy closed down due to COVID-19. These latest job numbers reflect the reopening of many tourist-related businesses.”

The Space Coast Office of Tourism also tracks hotel occupancy and revenue. June numbers showed hotel occupancy at 45% which was 37% down from last year’s occupancy rate of 72%. The average daily rate for hotel rooms dropped 13.8% to $102.80 and Revenue per Available Room, a measure of a hotel’s profitability, dropped 46% to $46.22. “There’s no doubt the hotel business is still hurting significantly, but there are some signs of life,” Cranis said. “Each week in June got a little better.”

The June numbers showed Brevard beat out its neighbors in Orlando and Kissimmee, as well as South Florida beaches, but were behind the destinations to the north such as Daytona and Jacksonville, as well as the west coast beaches St Pete/Clearwater. Cranis attributes this to the fact that cruise lines have not begun to operate yet and Disney was not open. “Two of our major drivers of traffic were not operational, so it’s a testament to the draw of our beaches that we did as well as we did in June. Other beach destinations don’t depend on those other industries.”

Tourist Development Tax collections in May were down 36% and Cranis believes June will see a similar decline. “We might perform a little better in June, but we are nowhere back to the normal volume we typically see for the summer.”

The Tourism Office launched a $750,000 marketing program in early June to invite people back to the Space Coast. The Marketing Committee just authorized an additional $150,000 to add to the campaign for August and September. “If we can just get a handle on this virus, if people would follow the health department guidelines, people might be more willing to travel again,” Cranis said. “With schools planning to reopen around the state we could see a late summer surge of people wanting to squeeze in that last minute getaway. We want to be talking about the Space Coast so we are in their consideration set.”