Editor’s Note | January

By: Mark Singletary

Looking forward to the return of all the college students

First of all, I’d like to wish all our readers a healthy, happy and prosperous new year. I really hope 2016 is a great year for every business in Gainesville.

This is my first winter in North Central Florida and it’s pretty amazing to see transition from a city filled with college students on motor scooters to what we have now, a nice southern winter town.

The students will be returning soon and I have to admit, I miss the energy. I can’t wait for them to exercise their unique form of hustle and bustle and exert their influence on all our lives.

I’ve lived in college towns before, but nothing like Gainesville. The impact, both social and economic that the university contributes is both measurable and existential.

According to a research study issued by the University of Delaware, the Office of Institutional Research and Planning conducted a study to examine the economic impact of the both the university and the state. Surprising no one, the impact is significant.

Every member of the business community knows, almost subconsciously, that college students spend money. The facts support that theory. The real story of economic impact is always the multiplier effect the consumption spending has on local economies.  

“The mean monthly student income from all sources after taxes was approximately $1,380.  This figure is approximately 35 percent more than the mean monthly income found in an earlier study.  The total mean monthly student expenditures in Delaware were approximately $1,060.  Student expenditures ranged in items from housing to entertainment to medical and dental.  Please note that students were asked to exclude University tuition, housing, and meal plans from their monthly expenditures, according to the report. “

While those numbers may not sound extraordinary, they are significant. The spending helps stock the shelves of local stores and more importantly, directly creates lots of jobs.

Our local unemployment rate is about four percent in 2015. That is as close to full employment as an economy can hope for. Full employment means there is constant wage pressure as employers compete for talent.

Local workers understand the significance of full employment, as well. Competition for good employees might be a struggle for some business owners, but we all have to celebrate our healthy economy.

I’ve been and manager and a business owner is several other markets. Some of the markets were full employment markets and others more closely resembled national employment data. I’ll take the full employment market every time.

When both workers and employers understand the benefits and costs of a fully employed workforce, it benefits both groups. Workers, knowing there is competition for their talents, will put forth the extra effort to be recognized as a valuable asset. Employers can, should and most often do come up with benefits, working conditions and opportunities for advancement that keeps workers in place.

So, let’s enjoy the benefits of full employment and welcome all the students, faculty and visitors back to town.

Here’s to a successful 2016.

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