Forget about making a list or checking it twice. Everyone I talk to — employed or unemployed — says all they want for the holidays are some Tampa Bay jobs.
Housing can't rebound if people aren't working. Retailers can't sell much if consumers can't find work or worry about keeping their jobs. Commercial real estate can't fill their too-vacant buildings if tenant companies aren't adding people.
More than 1 million Floridians are unemployed. That's roughly one of every 15 jobless folks in the nation. In sheer numbers, only California has more unemployed.
"People are not going to come to Tampa Bay if there are no jobs, if there is no track for jobs," warns Pat Leardo. The real estate development adviser on Friday presented a summary of distressing real estate trends for 2010 assembled by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Land Institute at a conference held at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg.
Suddenly, the nation has realized that finding ways to get people back to work really is Job One. But we're all struggling over how to hurry the recovery from such a severe recession.
The notion propelled the White House — as if it is not already on overload — to sponsor a job summit this past Thursday attended by President Barack Obama, his chief economic leaders and dozens of top execs running such companies as AstraZeneca, Eastman Kodak, Boeing, Ethan Allen and the Walt Disney Co.
The outcome? Not much of substance. Maybe there's a role for yet another government stimulus to encourage more jobs. But the real heavy lifting belongs to the private sector.
If only businesses felt like hiring.
Friday's burst of good news, of course, is that the national unemployment rate actually fell to 10 percent in November from 10.2 percent in October. Florida's unemployment rate is much higher, 11.2 percent in October but barely up from 11.1 percent in September.
That certainly hints we're approaching a jobless peak in the state. But we won't get the statewide November unemployment figure until Dec. 18.
Friday's national unemployment data indicated more companies are hiring temporary workers. That's notable because upswings in temp workers are often early indicators of an increase in hiring.
I tested that theory Friday in an interview with Ryan Skubis, Central Florida district director in Tampa of Robert Half International, the parent of such temp agencies we recognize as Accountemps, Office Team, Management Resources among other familiar names.
Temp work is rising quite nicely, Skubis said, especially in the past several weeks.
"A lot of businesses reduced their staffs a lot to drive their costs lower," he said. "Now they are beginning to find they need some help, though many are not ready to make a full-time hire."
The biggest demand here? Accounting workers, financial analysts and call centers.
Thanks, Santa, if you had anything to do with this. Any news about hiring is a gift.
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