“The larger the population, the more opportunities employers have to select qualified employees,” Sassano said.
Local economist David Goetsch said part of the growth in Okaloosa and Walton counties during that time frame was because of the addition of a new battalion to the Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and the continuing migration of retirees.
“Nobody’s growing very much because of the economy,” Goetsch said. “It’s good news for us, but we’re kind of one of the fastest growing in a very slow-growing economy.
“We’re leading a very slow pack,” he added.
Goetsch said he doesn’t expect the Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin MSA to remain one of the fastest-growing areas for much longer.
“Even without sequestration, I wouldn’t expect it because you get the benefit of the 7th Special Forces once, and we’ve got that now,” Goetsch said. “The small amount that we typical grow out of retirements will continue, but that is small, and with sequestration that will probably even be slower.
“With sequestration we will probably lose some also. Not military, not retirees, but we’ll probably lose some defense personnel.”