Last Friday’s good news-bad news announcement from the U.S. Bureau of Statistics on employment wasn’t much of a surprise. For perhaps the same reasons, the news that financial services company T. Rowe Price was shelving plans to build an office complex in the Wesley Chapel area caught Pasco County government and economic development officials by surprise, but should have been expected. On the jobs front, the economy produced 288,000 jobs in April, the vast majority in the private sector. In addition, the unemployment rate was down to 6.3 percent, a 66-month low. On the negative side, the unemployment rate drop was in large part the result of people stopping looking for work. The labor participation rate fell 0.4 percent, to 62.8 percent. In addition, the wages the people with jobs are earning remained flat, suggesting the employment market isn’t doing all that well. We won’t quibble with people who want to see positives in the April employment numbers. Nevertheless, the economy is nowhere near the state it should be in at this point in a normal business recovery. T. Rowe Price officials say the firm is not going to construct a three-building campus in south-central Pasco and bring 1,600 jobs with it because its operating model says it no longer needs the space. Three years ago, Price executives said it would be years before it would need that space but was still looking to use the Wesley Chapel land, which it bought in 2009.
Five years ago, Price executives probably thought things would be back to normal by now. The economy, however, has failed to deliver.