Florida job market on upswing


Florida's labor market is improving, with the unemployment rate dropping below 10 percent.
Florida's labor market is improving, with the unemployment rate dropping below 10 percent.

Florida's labor market is showing signs of improvement, with robust staffing causing the unemployment rate to drop below 10 percent for the first time in two years.

In December, the southern state's jobless rate fell to 9.9 percent in December 2011, according to a report released by The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity on January 20. This represented the first time that the state's jobless rate fell below 10 percent since January 2009, Tampa Bay Business Journal reports.

The jobless rate of 9.9 percent was 0.1 percent lower than the unemployment rate for November, and was 2.1 percent lower than the recent high of 12.0 percent reached in December 2010, according to the media outlet. Utilities, trade and transportation added more positions than other industries. Manufacturing, health services and professional and business services all added jobs during the period.

Although the state's unemployment rate is still higher than the national rate for joblessness, evidence of the improving jobs situation can be found in various major cities in the state, where a national construction firm plans to add more than 200 full time jobs in 2012, according to a statement released by the company on February 16. The national firm plans to add positions related to job functions including support, construction, management and engineering.

"[The company] continues to earn significant work in Florida. Our established relationships with [other telecom firms], as well as other network and tower operators, give us the confidence to expand our Florida presence and workforce," president and chief executive officer of the company Joseph Mwachullah said in the statement. "We're pleased that our success allows us to make this major commitment to the Sunshine State."

The company plans to hire for the positions in Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville. Creating the new positions will enable the firm to complete service and construction contracts for its clients. The company currently employs about 400 people, and has already hired more than 30 people in Florida this year. The firm plans to staff more roles on June 30, including positions related to construction, support and project management.

"While our need for skilled construction workers in Florida is immediate and project-based, we will train individuals where needed," Mwachullah said in the statement. "Also, these positions are not temporary. Our ongoing business in Florida will require long-term staffing. We intend to identify and hire quality workers who can serve the demanding requirements of our telecom and utility customers."

Florida job growth can also be seen in the telecommunications industry, where a global provider has announced plans to create jobs after landing a contract with the Florida Public Service Commission where it will relay communications for almost 3 million Floridians who have disabilities that would hamper their ability to make and receive calls, according to the Orlando Business Journal. Three firms bid for the contract, and the other two firms were unable to establish a call center in Florida.

The new call center will create between 25 and 35 new positions, the media outlet reports. The new provider won a three-year contract, which has an additional four one-year possible extensions. The current provider's contract will expire on May 31, and the new provider has stated that its agreement will save Florida $1.5 million over three years over the current rates.

A spokesperson for the new provider has stated that the company is deciding upon a location and will announce it soon, according to the media outlet. The provider estimates that the bid is worth $4.6 million per year.