Study: Tampa area fourth fastest-growing job market in U.S.

April 20, 2016

Christopher O’Donnell | Tampa Tribune/

When it comes to putting the recession in the rearview mirror, the Tampa Bay region is among the best performing communities in the nation, a new study suggests.

Employment in the Tampa metropolitan area has grown by 24 percent since December 2009, making it the fourth-fastest growing job market in the nation and the best in Florida over that period, according to an analysis by the New York Times.

In the same period, the region’s unemployment rate has fallen from 11.9 to 4.6 percent.

Only San Jose, Austin and Charlotte have grown jobs at a faster rate than Tampa Bay since the recession, the study shows. The Orlando metropolitan area placed fifth and Miami 11th in the study, a positive indicator of Florida’s economic health.

The most sluggish job growth in the nation was in the Midwest, with the number of jobs growing at less than 5 percent in metropolitan areas around Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Cleveland, the study shows.

Since taking office, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has focused on boosting business and streamlining the city’s permitting process to make it easier for new development and the influx of new companies.

He said the study shows that approach is working.

“We have changed Tampa’s economic DNA,” he said. “Literally and figuratively, we are leading the state of Florida out of the recession.”

The region’s success in growing jobs may be partly due to a greater level of cooperation between communities on both sides of Tampa Bay, he added.

For example, elected officials from St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Pinellas and Hillsborough counties have worked side by side on trade missions including trips to Chile and Toronto.

There is also a regional plan for a ferry pilot service to link the downtowns of Tampa and St. Petersburg.

“The decades-old squabbling and feuding is over,” Buckhorn said. “If we join together our collective assets are so much stronger than our liabilities.”

The job growth coincides with an increase in population, too. Combined, Hillsborough and Pinellas grew by 57,000 in a one-year period that ended June 2015, U.S. Census data shows.

The growth isn’t just since the recession. Figures released by Gov. Rick Scott on Friday show the region added nearly 43,000 jobs over the past year, the second-highest gain in the state after Orlando, which added about 49,000 jobs.

Among the Tampa Bay region jobs were 12,400 jobs in professional and business service industries. Another 11,000 jobs came in education and health services and 3,200 in construction.

The New York Times study looked at the number of jobs in metropolitan areas across the nation using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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