Friday, May 16, 2014

April Jobs Report: Florida and Orlando

The latest report on the state and local economy was released this morning and it continued to indicate that a real recovery is underway.  The headline numbers include a net gain of 34,000 jobs statewide in April (+0.4%) and up nearly 247,000 over the last 12 months (+3.3%) while the unemployment rate fell to 6.2%.  Regular readers of this blog already know what's coming up next - what about the effect of the participation rate?  This is where I'm supposed to say that the participation rate fell and there was no real decline in the unemployment rate.  However ... the participation rate has started to increase recently and is now aapproaching 60.7% (compared to a low of about 60% in late 2013 and 60.4% one year ago.  If the participation rate had remained constant over the last year, the unemployment rate would be even lower.  Of course the recent increase just brings it back to where it was in the second half of 2011.  Prior to the recession (Dec 2007), the participation rate stood at 64.2%.  Given demographics trends, it shouldn't return to that rate.  The recent bounce in the participation rate supports the idea that a significant portion of the decline was cyclical (people not looking for work due to a poor job market; as the job market improves, more people are looking for jobs).

Which industries are leading the rebound?  Food/Accomodation services added thre most jobs in April and have risen 5.6% since April 2013.  Professional/Business services came in second for the month and have increased by 5.1% in the last year, led by employment services, which have risen by 10% and professional/technical services (+4.6%).  Construction continued its recovery, adding nearly 5000 jobs last month and almost 44,000 over thre last year (+12.1%).

Given the strong job growth statewide, which major metropolitan area is posting the strongest gains?  Just under half of the job gains statewide in April were in Metro Orlando, which added 12,000 jobs.  Over the last year, employment in Orlando is up 4.5% (4.9% in the private sector).  Official data for metropolitan areas throughout the US for April won't be released until later this month, but it appears that Orlando may have the fastest rate of job creation of any major metropolitan area in the county.  Which industries have led the surge in employment?  Fortunately, it has been quite diversified including leisure/hospitality (up 14,800 or 6.8%), professional/business services (up 10,300 or 5.9%), retail trade (up 6600 or 5.1%), and construction (up 5200 or 10.5%).  One can question the quality of jobs to some extent, but an increasing proportion of high-paying jobs are being added (particularly in construction and professional/technical services).

What are the key takeaways?  The Florida job market is experiencing significant improvement, with strong employment gains and lower unemployment despite an increase in the number of people seeking work.  Orlando is among the strongest metropolitan areas in the nation in terms of the rate of job creation, with a rising portion of the gains in relatively high-paying industries.