If you’re wondering which state owns bragging rights to the hottest labor market in America, look toward the Sunshine State. According to a new Bizjournals study, Florida is home to five of the 10-best labor markets. Cape Coral-Fort Myers holds first place in the national rankings, while Sarasota-Bradenton, Orlando, Lakeland, and Miami-Fort Lauderdale are also in the top 10.
The report says these Florida markets rank high due to strong job growth and low unemployment rates. The five Florida markets have collectively added half-a-million jobs since 2001, led by gains of 194,900 jobs in Miami and 158,000 in Orlando.
“It’s getting easier for recruiters to drum up business here,” says Claudia Faust, founding partner of Strategic Alliances in Plantation, Florida. “Certainly, there are industry sectors in which it is manic finding talent. For example, in the construction industry post-hurricane season, including civil engineering and commercial construction. Healthcare is huge here, too. Florida also has quite an active technology sector, below the national radar screen, but still robust.”
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, located in southwest Florida, has 230,000 jobs. The report cites an influx of new residents and healthy tourism sector that are driving the rapid expansion of that employment base, which is growing by almost 1,000 jobs a month.
The workforce in Cape Coral-Fort Myers has expanded by 32.5% during the past five years, the fastest growth rate among the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas. Sarasota-Bradenton is second in that category at 26.8%.
“There is a lot of need. In the Tampa Bay, Orlando, central Florida markets, from an IT exclusive perspective, there are more needs than we can fill,” says Tom Byrne, director of recruiting staffing services at Rita Technology Services in Tampa, Florida.
“I’m guessing that the Naples and Ft. Myers areas are maybe more retail- and hospitality-driven. There are very few big businesses down there, but as the population expands in Tampa, what is happening is that there is only so much room for new construction. More people are moving south to the Ft. Myers area, and unless you’re retired, all of those people need to be working,” says Byrne.?
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In fact, Cape Coral-Fort Myers and Sarasota-Bradenton have the lowest unemployment rates in the national study group, 2.6%. The only non-Florida market below 3% is Boise, Idaho.
Moving down the list, the report says the next-hottest job market is found in Las Vegas. Rounding out the top-10 are Phoenix; Sarasota-Bradenton; Orlando; Riverside-San Bernardino, California; Lakeland; Boise, Idaho; Washington, D.C.; and Miami-Fort Lauderdale.?
New Orleans landed at the bottom of the list. The report alleges that hurricane Katrina’s aftermath cost New Orleans roughly one-third of its employment base. The area has seen a 30.2% decrease, or 188,600 fewer jobs, compared to five years ago, the report says.