Florida leads nation in job growth, construction hiring

by Andrew Morrell

In a strong sign for the local housing market and economy, new data from the U.S. Department of Labor showed Florida added the most employees of any state in February, the latest month for which state-level data were available.

Businesses in Florida added 25,200 jobs to state payrolls in February, growing its total workforce by 2.4 percent above year-ago levels. That helped nudge the unemployment rate to 3.3 percent in the Miami metro area and 3.5 percent statewide. Low local unemployment and strong job growth are among the best indicators of a strong economy as well as the fuel for housing market expansion. Across all 50 states, job growth averaged just 1.7 percent.

In the construction sector specifically, Florida was among the minority of states where employment figures increased in February. Builders in the state grew payrolls by 4.2 percent in February, well above the U.S. average of 3.1 percent. In the Miami metro area alone, construction employment grew at an annual rate of 4.2 percent. These figures include both residential and nonresidential building, but still point to good things ahead for the housing market coming off a protracted labor shortage.

With March employment figures out April 5, Florida is expected to show impressive job growth yet again on the heels of strong national figures. The Labor Department reported total payrolls increased by 196,000 in March, far above February’s national total of just 33,000 new jobs. The national unemployment rate still sat near record lows, at 3.8 percent as of the latest reading. 

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