Farming has been important to Florida’s economy ever since the Spanish introduced citrus fruit, sugarcane, and cattle into Florida in the middle of the 18th century. These three industries are still important to the state. Late in the 18th century, the British introduced the plantation system of agriculture to Florida to produce indigo and cotton, but the indigo plant is no longer cultivated and cotton, although still grown, is no longer a significant crop. The state’s vast pine forests have been a source of pitch and tar, called naval stores, as early as the 16th century, and lumbering became important in the 19th century.
In the late 19th century, Florida’s tourist industry began to develop, with the construction of railroads and resort facilities. In the 20th century tourism became the largest single source of income for the state. Manufacturing in Florida developed in the 20th century, and by the beginning of the 21st century it had been greatly diversified and expanded.
The largest contributor to Florida’s economy in 1999 was the services sector, which contributed 77 percent of the state’s gross product. It includes such industries as finance, insurance, real estate, and retail trade. A cornerstone of this commerce is the tourism industry. Much of the service industry is devoted to meeting the needs of tourists; retail outlets cater to tourists for a significant proportion of their sales, and the real estate and finance industries construct developments to entice tourists to stay or at least spend part of the year in Florida.
Florida had a work force of 8,660,000 people in 2008. The largest share of them, 42 percent, were employed in the diverse service sector doing such things as working in restaurants or data processing. Another 22 percent were employed in wholesale or retail trade; 14 percent in federal, state, or local government; 23 percent in finance, insurance, or real estate; 5 percent in manufacturing; 7 percent in construction; 20 percent in transportation or public utilities; and 2 percent in farming (including agricultural services), forestry, or fishing. Just 0.1 percent held jobs in the mining industry. In 2007, 6 percent of Florida’s workers were unionized. The state has a right-to-work law, which prohibits union membership as a condition of employment. "Florida" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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