But home sales and median prices have been picking up this year, and Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer, which opened its first U.S. assembly plant in Melbourne, Florida, last year, recently announced a 67,000-square-foot (6,225-square-metre) expansion to house an engineering and technology research center.
The company expects to add 200 engineers, with average annual salaries of $70,000, beginning this month.
”Because there is so much in the way of aviation and aircraft industry in Brevard County, we’re able to select the right kind of people that will work for Embraer. There’s a lot of talent in this area,” said Phil Krull, Embraer’s managing director in Melbourne.
Overall, the county’s unemployment rate is 9 percent, down from a peak of 11.7 percent in August 2011, following the shuttle program layoffs, according to Snaith. The national jobless rate is 8.2 percent.
Much of the local backlash for canceling the shuttle program fell on President Barack Obama, even though the decision was made before the Democrat took office in January 2009.
Since space is an integral part of central Florida’s economy, that same backlash threatens to hurt Obama in his campaign for re-election on Nov. 6 against Republican rival Mitt Romney.
The so-called I-4 corridor region, spanning the interstate highway that cuts across Florida’s midsection, is seen as home to many undecided voters in the battleground state.
“If you’re the incumbent when it hits the fan, you take the blame,” said Dale Ketcham, a Florida space policy analyst who works with several business development and research agencies.