Slow, Steady Job Growth Predicted for Jacksonville

16 05 2010

Moody’s, an independent provider of economic and industry research to financial institutions, predicts an 0.6 percent increase in jobs for Jacksonville Florida when comparing the fourth quarter of 2009 with the fourth quarter of 2010. Of 14 sectors, eight are predicted to see job growth over the next seven months:

Construction. A University of Florida study says Florida’s real estate market has bottomed out, paving the way for what Moody’s says will be an 8.5 percent increase in construction jobs.

Retail trade. Another survey by the University of Florida says the state’s consumer confidence rose six points to 77 in April — the highest since a 79 point finding in October 2007. That indicates a recovering retail sector, which is predicted to add jobs by 4.4 percent .

Other services. An optimistic outlook by consumers also improves the outlook in the service sector, which includes maintenance, repair and personal care. It’s predicted to grow by 3.4 percent.

Wholesale trade. Relatively strong growth of 2.9 percent is predicted.

Transportation and warehousing. Continued growth at the Port of Jacksonville, combined with an improving economy, should lead to a 1.6 percent increase.

Utilities. A 1.5 percent in job growth is predicted.

Leisure and hospitality. Positive national unemployment data points to a brighter future for tourism. Jacksonville is expected to benefit as well, growing by 1.1 percent.

Professional & business services. The sector is predicted to see modest growth of 0.7 percent.

Six sectors are predicted to continue to shed jobs, ranging from a 0.4 percent decrease in education and health services to a 4.2 percent decline in the Information sector, which includes broadcasting, telecommunications and data processing. In between are a 1.0 percent decrease in financial activities, a 2.3 percent decrease in manufacturing, a 3.5 percent decrease in natural resources, and, perhaps not surprisingly in light of the City’s financial woes, a 3.7 decrease in government.

In conversations with business owners and professionals, the mood seems to be one of optimism.

Lenny Curry, co-managing director of ICX Group Inc., an accounting and IT consulting firm, said he started seeing improvement before the end of 2009.

“We’re seeing an increase, month after month,” Curry said. “But, we’re not seeing the salary ranges from several years ago, particularly for junior level employees.”

Joseph McCann, dean at Jacksonville University’s Davis College of Business, said there are areas the state can focus on for growth, beginning with higher education.

“We can be importers of students,” McCann said.

He believes Jacksonville is well positioned to lead a recovery with a strong healthcare sector and the state’s only commercial spaceport.

The numbers tell the very real story that any recovery will take time — much longer, perhaps, than the sudden decline. But, positive trends, however fragile, are beginning to emerge.

Source: The Florida-Times Union

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