Florida Leads the Nation in Potential Job Growth

Florida gets a boost in the rankings by tourism and hospitality industries, a natural for a state that attracts more than any other on the East Coast.

But Wells Fargo also gives Florida credit for a growing “life-sciences” industry, citing both a hefty retired population needing medical care and the research dollars that come with facilities like the planned Scripps Research facility in Palm Beach County. “The influx of new medical research facilities will help reinvigorate [research and development] growth in Florida, helping further diversify the state’s economy,’’ the report said.

Florida was ranked as regionally competitive in 22 industries, one more than second place finisher Georgia in the Wells Fargo ranking. The high-growth sectors include white-collar fields such as finance, insurance and professional services.

“Florida is attracting a diverse group of individuals,’’ said Michael Brown, a Wells Fargo economist and study author. ”They are in a position to expand employment amid a wider selection of industries.’’

The study took two decades of employment data, tracked growth trends, then forecast where they’re likely to be in future years. The report emphasizes the ranking doesn’t equate to job growth — that is, Florida won’t necessarily lead in creating jobs. But the Sunshine State has the potential to compete in a broader range of industries than the other states.

“We anticipate Florida will likely have a more diverse employment base, moving forward. That’s the main conclusion,’’ Brown said.

One big question Brown raised: can Florida produce enough skilled workers to satisfy employers? Citing plans to slash school funding across Florida, Brown said the projections assume a skilled workforce to meet hiring demand.

“It all depends on the state’s education situation,’’ he said.


Douglas Hanks

The Miami Herald