Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Business

Florida continues strong run of job growth

The state added 22,500 jobs in August.
Job applicants seek information about temporary positions available with the 2020 Census, during a job fair in Miami on Wednesday designed for people fifty years or older. [LYNNE SLADKY  |  AP]
Job applicants seek information about temporary positions available with the 2020 Census, during a job fair in Miami on Wednesday designed for people fifty years or older. [LYNNE SLADKY | AP]
Published Sep. 20
Updated Sep. 20

Florida remains on a long winning streak when it comes to creating jobs.

An additional 22,500 people were employed in August compared to July, according to state figures released Friday. Florida has added jobs every month dating back to 2011, except for a blip in September 2017 when Hurricane Irma ripped through the state upending the economy for a couple of weeks.

The unemployment rate remained the same at 3.3 percent. That’s close to the state’s all-time low of 3.1 percent set in March 2006. Back then, the unemployment rate was held down by an overheated real estate market that later imploded, helping bring on the Great Recession.

Today’s job growth is spread more evenly. Every major metro area added jobs in August — with Miami, Orlando and Tampa Bay leading the way — as did nearly all of the state’s 10 largest job sectors. Professional and business services added the most with 7,200, followed by leisure and hospitality (4,700) and construction (4,100).

The breadth of the economic expansion matters. Typically, adding jobs across many industries and locations means job growth will be more durable. Even if one industry or region takes a hit, the others will help absorb the blow.

Think of a strong labor market as the backbone of a solid economy.

“This jobs report reaffirms that the state’s labor market is in good shape, particularly in Central Florida,” said University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith.

RELATED STORY: How Florida’s jobs picture has changed since before the Great Recession.

Another bright spot: More people were working or looking for work. The labor pool grew by 34,000 people in August, outpacing the growth in the working-age population.

In other words, more people are getting pulled off the sidelines and into the job market. Some were discouraged workers who had stopped looking for jobs, so they were no longer counted in the employment figures. Others migrated from other states or had spent years as a stay-at-home parent.

The result is more people with more money in their pockets, which helps drive an economy that relies heavily on consumer spending.

A caveat is that the growth in the labor force has been uneven this year, and is nowhere near the pace set a few years ago.

“This is a positive sign,” said Karl Kuykendall, principal economist at IHS Markit. “(But) we’ll have to monitor where the numbers come in over the next couple months to get a real sense of where things are going.”

Wages and salaries in Florida have started to rise more rapidly. In general, wages climb in tight labor markets. Businesses use higher pay to retain workers and attract new ones. But this time around wages remain sluggish compared to the growth rates during previous eras of low unemployment. They are going up, they just aren’t rising as fast as expected.

The growing labor pool may help explain why. The extra workers are filling open jobs, which eases the pressure on businesses to increase pay. They are soaking up demand, not enough to eliminate wage growth, but enough to slow it down.

Unemployment remains low enough to pressure businesses to keep raising wages. How fast? Time will tell, but Florida’s jobs picture indicates that this economic expansion has legs, at least for the near term.

Select unemployment rates for August:

Florida 3.3 percent

U.S. 3.7 percent

Tampa Bay 3.5 percent

Citrus 5.2 percent

Hernando 4.8 percent

Hillsborough 3.4 percent

Manatee 3.5 percent

Pasco 3.8 percent

Pinellas 3.3 percent

Sarasota 3.4 percent

Hendry (highest in Florida) 8.2 percent

Monroe (lowest in Florida) 2.4 percent

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Rendering of Encompass Health Corporation's planned 37,000-square-foot facility in Land O' Lakes [Pasco EDC]
    News and notes on local businesses
  2. Jeremy Sutliff drags a freshly cut hop plant over to the harvesting machine at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
    Researchers are trying to make a variety of hops suitable to Florida’s climate.
  3. The Sears in Brooksville, as shown in this captured image from Google Maps, will close next year. [Google]
    The store’s parent company had already announced the area’s last Kmart in Pinellas also is closing.
  4. Tampa is among the most friendly pet-friendly cities for renters. Pictured is downtown Tampa. [Times file photo] [Tampa Tribune]
    According to Homes.com’s recent analysis, nearly 60 percent of rentals on its site in Tampa are pet friendly.
  5. Meridian Concourse Center in Clearwater. [Avison Young]
    The Meridian Concourse Center consists of three buildings.
  6. Tech Data CEO Rich Hume (left) shares a moment with his predecessor, Bob Dutkowsky, during a send-off celebration for Dutkowsky on June 7, 2018 at the company's 
 headquarters in Largo. At the time, Tech Data had already received the first in what would become a series of purchase offers from New York-based private equity giant Apollo Global Management. Along the way, Dutkowsky would play a key role in negotiations with Apollo. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times (2018)
    Apollo Global Management has been trying to buy Tech Data for a year and a half. Along the way, four other companies were interested, too. Two made offers.
  7. At the request of a state lawmaker, Citizens Property Insurance Co.’s board is again bringing in an outside evaluator to help the insurer decide if and how to cull its policyholder base. Pictured is  Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) (left) and Barry Gilway, CEO of Citizens. [Courtesy of Sen. Jeff Brandes and Citizens Property Insurance Co.]
    At the request of St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes, the insurer will look for ways to shrink.
  8. In addition to offering groceries through Prime Now, Amazon has just launched Amazon Fresh in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
    The online retailer branches out beyond the Whole Foods’ organic products it already offers.
  9. Pinellas County Commission chairwoman Karen Seel said a Tampa economic development group's recent decision to put "Tampa Bay" into its name "does great harm to the progress we have made on regional collaboration."
    But in Tampa, the chief executive officer of the nonprofit, government-supported economic development group is giving no sign of backing off the new name.
  10. This holiday season could be a record for travel. According to AAA, the Auto Club Group. Pictured is traffic on the Bayside Bridge in Clearwater in October. [Times file photo] [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
    According to AAA, the Auto Club Group, more Americans are traveling this year than previous years.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement