With so many area businesses shutting down, Volusia County’s economy is going to take a big hit, but a recent report shows the county may have not been growing too much anyway.

Unemployment was at 3.5% in January in Volusia County, up from 3% in December and 4.2% in January 2018, which is about what you’d expect from the seasonal change in employment.

The state estimated non-agricultural jobs in the Volusia/Flagler area were at 206,400 in January, up 1.5% or 3,000 jobs from January 2019, but the estimate may have been generous.

According to the Third Quarter Census of Employment and Wages, job growth in just Volusia County was miniscule at 171,955, only up from 171,750 in the third quarter of 2018. Wage growth also was slowing at an annualized average of $39,638, up 2.4% from the previous year. Wages were growing at more than 3% in the first half of 2019.

The third quarter is traditionally the slowest time of year for Volusia County, in between the summer tourist season and he arrival of the snowbirds in November. Still, the slow growth in 2019 doesn’t bode well for the strength of the economy heading into the Covid-19 epidemic.

There is still reason for optimism that Volusia’s economy will bounce back quickly after the current severe unpleasantness. A lot of new stuff was popping up, including the huge new Amazon distribution center at Deltona and Brown & Brown’s big new headquarters. So there is hope that once we get past the current crisis, Volusia will get back to healthy economic growth.

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Chick-fil-A fans are going to be in for a shock soon with the Port Orange location shutting down April 2 for a six- to eight-week remodel, including adding a second drive-through window. It will be even more drastic in Daytona Beach where the Chick-fil-A will be demolished and rebuilt. The plan is still going through the approval process and the restaurant hasn’t announced when it will close, but the shut down probably will be months, not weeks.

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Commercial real estate transactions slowed down, but there were still some worth mentioning, led by Candlelight Mobile Home Park at 2000 Volusia Ave. in Orange City selling for $7.56 million to a Windemere investor. A Tampa developer bought the Starbucks development site on Third Avenue in New Smyrna Beach for $1.45 million. A Rockledge home builder bought the office building at 3881 S. Nova Road in Port Orange for $795,000. The Anchor Inn at 312 Washington St. in New Smyrna Beach was sold to an Orlando couple for $750,000. Brooks Tomblin Holdings LLC bought the apartment building at 301 Riverview Blvd. in Daytona Beach for $442,000. A Miami Beach investor bought the commercial building at 1861 N. Nova Road in Holly Hill for $315,000. Tenants are a thrift shop and hardware shop.

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On a final note, one more piece of the Delta project of Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co. in downtown Daytona Beach is falling into place. Becks Building offices at 125 N. Ridgewood Ave. are moving to 1808 Concept Court across from Kaiser University. Becks Building probably will be remodeled for high-end residences in the plan.

Managing Editor Cecil G. Brumley has been tracking business and the economy in Volusia County for more than 23 years. Contact him at cbrumley@hometownnewsmediagroup.com (no hyphens) or follow him on Twitter @cecilbrumley.

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