Palm Beach County is home to the nation’s most valuable utility, the winter White House, a who’s who of billionaires and two prestigious biotech labs.

Despite those advantages, Palm Beach County’s economy is struggling to keep pace with other large counties in Florida, according to local economic data released last week by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

While Palm Beach County’s population of 1.49 million ranks third among Florida’s 67 counties, its 2018 gross domestic product of $72 billion rates fifth. Adjust for population, and Palm Beach County’s GDP per capita falls to sixth among Florida counties.

Palm Beach County’s 2.4 percent growth rate from 2017 to 2018 ranked 45th among the state’s counties.

Orange County, the hub of Florida’s booming tourism sector, ranks first in GDP per capita. Its economic output was worth nearly $88 billion last year, a robust 4 percent gain from 2017.

Palm Beach County’s relatively tepid growth has been showing up in other places, too. The county’s job growth of 1.9 percent from October 2018 to October 2019 trailed the statewide pace of 2.6 percent, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

While the economies of Florida’s coastal counties are expanding its rural inland counties are shrinking. Ten Florida counties saw economic contractions from 2017 to 2018. The hardest hit were Okeechobee County, down 9.6 percent, and Levy County, off 9.5 percent.

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jostrowski@pbpost.com

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