Tallahassee nears 10-year high mark on jobs

From the Tallahassee Democrat

My View by Jay Revell, Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Vice President

Jobs are on the rebound in the Tallahassee area. 2016 is on track to have the highest recorded job total for the four-county metropolitan statistical area (MSA) since before the Great Recession.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Tallahassee MSA is home to a total of 179,200 non-farm salary and wage jobs as of the end of November 2016. That is the highest mark for November since 2007 and the highest monthly total of any month since December 2007.

The good news is our community has nearly reached a full jobs recovery from the Great Recession. These numbers seem to be indicative of a strong and positive trend for the Tallahassee economy.

For those who may not jump at the excitement that comes with following monthly jobs reports, it is important to understand the basic trends the Tallahassee area jobs market sees within a normal year. Jobs typically see a spring peak in April, with a predictable trough in July while students are gone and schools are out.

Following the summer slowdown, jobs typically see a fall surge to a yearly peak in November and December. Those numbers will fall after the holidays, but rebound towards a spring peak again.

2016 followed predictable trends but with stronger numbers throughout the seasons than we have seen in nearly a decade. Every month in 2016 has had its highest total jobs number since 2008.

The most exciting part is that the months of May, July, September, October and November actually recorded higher job totals than the same months in 2008. It would be fair to say that 2016 has been the best jobs year for the Tallahassee MSA since 2007.

The leading industries driving these positive trends are hospitality, professional services, financial and health care. Each of those sectors saw growth. Hospitality continues to be a leading industry for jobs growth with a 6.1-percent increase. Professional services followed with a 3.7-percent increase, with financial and health care following at nearly 3 percent each.

Although jobs growth in the MSA is showing many positive signs, wages continue to be an area of concern. The latest BLS report on wages shows that Tallahassee trails the national average hourly wage by 11 percent. Out of the 22 wage categories tracked by the BLS, Tallahassee is behind the national average in all but two.

As 2017 approaches, there are many bright spots in the Tallahassee area jobs data. Housing and hospitality construction appear poised for another strong year, but the hospitality market may be nearing a saturation point over the next 24 months. Health care appears to be on an accelerated growth track as local institutions continue to expand, and senior care needs increase with an aging baby boomer population.

If the enthusiasm in the stock markets is bolstered by loosened financial regulations, it is possible the year ahead could see considerable growth in the financial industry.

The team at Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce has spent considerable time in 2016 diving into the jobs numbers each month as part of our new Growing Business initiative. For those interested in taking a deeper dive into the data driving our local economy, save the date for the Chamber’s 2017 Economic Forecast Forum on Feb. 2 at the FSU Turnbull Conference Center.