Tampa residents still reeling from the Great Recession may find this one hard to believe, but it gives job seekers a big injection of hope.
The city of Tampa ranks as the third-best city in the country to find a job this year, according to an analysis by Wallet Hub, an online personal financial advice tool.
The list released this week ranks 60 major cities to assess the strength of the job market and greatest prospects for "long-term financial security." Among the 13 metrics crunched for the overall ranking were number of job openings, unemployment rate trend, cost of living and prevalence of employer-provided health benefits.
In the end, Tampa came out trailing only Forth Worth, Texas, and Washington, D.C. Four of the top six were Texas metros. The next-highest Florida city was Miami at No. 30. Wallet Hub did not include the cities of St. Petersburg or Clearwater in its analysis.
Bringing up the rear at No. 60 was Los Angeles.
Like other major tourism destinations, Wallet Hub pointed out, Tampa was hit hard during the Great Recession with thousands of lost jobs and tumbling home prices.
"The area's economy is nearly back to its pre-recession size, however," the report said, "and only 11 major U.S. cities have fewer employees per capita living below the poverty line."
Tampa's status was also buoyed by having the eighth-best-paid workforce in the country (when cost of living is taking into account) and the ninth-most-diverse industrial mix.
Economists have been generally upbeat about the growth prospects throughout Tampa Bay this year, with job creation becoming more broad-based. Higher home prices, rising tourism dollars and a growing population all helped push the bay area's unemployment rate below 6 percent by the close of 2013.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn embraced the news as proof that attempts to strip burdensome regulations, energize downtown and attract new jobs are paying off.
"We're on a roll. There's no doubt about it," he said.
"People are shaking off the depression and are looking forward to a much, much brighter future. There's an electricity in Tampa that hasn't existed in decades. It's palpable."