It’s no accident that Tampa Bay is the 4th hottest job market in the nation

April 30, 2024

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal published a report naming the Tampa MSA as the 4th hottest job market in the country. Among the reasons cited for this ranking were our region’s significant changes in average wages, dramatic increase in our labor force size and participation, and low unemployment.

The exponential growth of higher wage jobs in Hillsborough County in particular is a point of pride. According to FloridaCommerce*, Hillsborough County’s average annual wages are the third highest in the state at $68,205, slightly behind Palm Beach County ($71,297) and Miami-Dade ($71,554).  Hillsborough County’s wages are the highest in our MSA and exceed the State of Florida average of $63,781. Thanks to the very intentional efforts of the Tampa Bay EDC and our partners, we are succeeding in recruiting high wage jobs in our target industries, attracting new talent to our community, and keeping the lion’s share of our graduates from our colleges and universities. The University of Tampa’s latest survey of its students revealed that 70% of undergrads and more than 80% of graduate students plan to stay in Tampa Bay after they complete their studies. That’s an incredible turnaround in sentiment from 20 years ago, when Tampa Bay ranked 47th out of the top 50 metro areas for retention of young professionals.** Tampa has gone from a place where civic leaders bemoaned our ‘brain drain’ in the early 2000s to a city nationally renowned for its brain gain.

The growth of strategically important specializations within the tech sector – such as cybersecurity, health tech, fintech, and supply chain management technology – are also fueling Tampa Bay’s attractiveness as a business destination. This growth is possible because of intentional collaborations among our target industry, academic, workforce and business leaders who, two decades ago, saw what was necessary to achieve success and have stayed focused on those fundamentals ever since.

The Tampa Bay EDC’s continued success is shaped by our ability to stay focused on our mission, too. As Florida’s economic development toolkit gets depleted of valuable performance-based incentives that helped us win so many transformational projects, we need to adapt and change to keep our market competitive. We will, of course. There’s no stopping the momentum we’ve worked so hard to achieve. We won’t be satisfied until we move up those rankings to become the number one hottest job market in the nation.






*Source: Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, latest available wage data (2022)
**Source: The Young & the Restless: How Tampa Bay Competes for Talent, 2004