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A Guide to the 2019 Florida Job Market

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Sunshine, plenty of tourist activities, and all the oranges you can eat — Florida has a lot to offer. If you've spent a holiday in the Sunshine State, or you've walked through an amusement park on a sunny summer day, you've probably experienced that for yourself.

Should you take it one step further? Are you considering looking for a job and a permanent home in the state you love to visit?

Florida has a low unemployment rate, a long history of providing jobs, and plenty of industries for job seekers to choose from, but it also has challenges you'll need to think hard about before making the switch.

Understand Florida’s Low Unemployment Numbers


Just how easily can you land a job in Florida? One quick way to answer that question is to dig into the unemployment rate. This statistic tells you how many people are looking for work and can't find one. Florida officials are proud of their low rate in 2019, but there's more to the story to understand.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says Florida's unemployment rate in May 2019 was 3.4%.

The national unemployment rate percentage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, was 3.6% in May 2019.

Put those two numbers together, and they suggest that few people are searching for jobs in Florida. If they want to work, they will most likely find something, but another set of numbers complicates the picture a bit.

In 2016, Gallup conducted a "good jobs" survey to track adults ages 18 and older who are employed full-time and working at least 30 hours per week. The more people like this they could find, the higher "good jobs" score a state could pull down. It indicates people aren't just working, but working a lot.

Florida had a “good jobs” score of just 40.4%, which ranked it near the bottom of all the states researchers examined. What's happening here?

Floridians may be working, researchers say, but they may not be working full-time. They might also be working for themselves, as they can't find an employer to take them on.

Migration could explain that issue. Analysts explain that in May 2018 alone, 23,000 people joined the Florida labor force. They moved into the area, or they came of age and started working. That's a massive influx of people, and it suggests that companies are constantly growing to meet the needs of all the people who want to work. That influx of people can, in part, explain what jobs are plentiful in the Sunshine State.

Florida’s Employment History

Before we dig into the jobs available now, it pays to look back on the industries that Florida is built on. Some of those positions remain, but others have disappeared.

The Florida Center for Instructional Technology says Florida has been through several economy booms, including those relating to:

  • Agriculture. Citrus farms sprung up in the late 1800s, and they became a core part of Florida's economy. Cattle was also plentiful in the early days of the state.
  • Forestry. Large stands of cedar trees were transformed into pencils and furniture, while the sap was used to make turpentine.
  • Tourism. Florida has long been considered the playground of Americans. That spark in tourism began in the 1800s.
  • Cigar making. Key West and Tampa Bay were at the heart of the cigar industry. Tobacco leaves were harvested, cured, and transformed into smokable products in large warehouses.

In the 1960s, Florida’s history changed again. The first American astronaut took a trip into space in a craft launched from Cape Kennedy. Then in the 1970s, Walt Disney World opened its doors to visitors, and tourism was never the same again.

Echoes of the past remain in the present. More than 80 million visitors head to Florida each year for tourist activities, and close to half of the world's orange juice comes from Florida trees. Additionally, the state has also been modernizing and developing new jobs and new industries, meaning options for job seekers are widening.


Employment in Florida Now

Move to Florida, and you can certainly find jobs in citrus fields and fruit-processing plants. If you're inclined, you can also pursue a job in tourism, but if you'd like to stretch skills and work in a completely different field, you do have options.

Since many people move to Florida every year, there are plenty of construction firms looking for workers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says growth in the construction sector grew 5.2% between 2018 and 2019. There is no real end in sight.

That could be good news for you if you'd like to work in any of the following fields:

  • Carpentry
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical Contracting
  • Architecture
  • City Planning

The Florida Economic Development Council says these five industries are growing within the state and could be good options for job seekers:

  1. Life Sciences: If you're interested in medical research, pharmaceutical work, or biotech positions, Florida could be an exceptional choice. Companies squeezed out of California by high prices and higher taxes are moving to Florida, and they're looking for workers interested in this field.

  2. Security: All that innovation, and all of the ports that export goods, need protection. Florida needs people willing to do the boots-on-the-ground work, but the state also needs planners and architects to develop plans to keep everyone safe.

  3. Information Technology: California migration also impacts this sector. Companies focused on mobile technology, website optimization, digital media, and digital marketing are all moving into this state.

  4. Aerospace: The Space Station calls Florida home, and it takes a massive amount of employee work to keep things up and running. Aviation companies also set up shop within the state, and they bring plenty of jobs with them.
  5. Manufacturing. Land is plentiful in Florida, and the state's business-friendly structure makes setting up large shops relatively easy. Close to 19,000 manufacturers work in Florida, and they make almost every product you can think of.

Where Should You Live in Florida?


We've been talking about Florida as a whole, but some parts of the state perform better than others. Florida is a big state, and some cities are better positioned to nurture business relationships than others.

Enterprise Florida creates industry maps to help people understand where big businesses are located. Each map tends to highlight the same cities.

  • Tallahassee: Companies like EMS and Datamaxx Group have corporate headquarters here.
  • Jacksonville: Bank of America, Winn-Dixie, and the PGA Tour have corporate headquarters here. This city is home to plenty of companies in the financial services sector, including Bank of America and Deutsche Bank.
  • Orlando: Tupperware and Siemens Energy have corporate headquarters here. JP Morgan Chase and Verizon Communications are among the handful of financial services sector companies here.
  • Tampa: Professional services companies in this area include USAA, WellCare, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Ernst & Young.
  • Miami: Burger King, Univision, and Royal Caribbean Cruises have corporate headquarters here. American Express, Citibank, and Mastercard all have corporate offices here.

You could live in the city in which you hope to find a job, but you have other options.

The Florida Department of Transportation reports that 6% of workers in Florida do their tasks from home, and about 18% of workers have jobs located outside of the county or state they live in. Those statistics suggest that you could live almost anywhere and still get a job in Florida.

Should You Make the Switch?

Ditching your current job and community for a new career in Florida can seem risky. If you're contemplating the big move, you might feel a little isolated and alone. In reality, there are plenty of people just like you thinking about making a home in the Sunshine State.

For example, Governing reports that more than 63,000 people moved to Florida from New York in 2017 alone. In fact, Florida is one of the top destinations for people moving away from the northeastern part of the country.

Whether you want to move to take a step up in your career, make more money, or both, we can help. At Joblist, we offer a database of thousands of jobs, making searching for a job by location extremely easy. Just tell us a bit about where you want to live and what you want to do, and we'll do the rest.

It's free to get started, so start your search today.


Economy at a Glance: Florida. (June 2019). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

National Unemployment Rate at 3.6 Percent Through May 2019. National Conference of State Legislatures.

North Dakota Has Highest Gallup Good Jobs Rate. (January 2016). Gallup.

Florida's Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.8 Percent. (June 2018). Tampa Bay Times.

Florida's Economy Booms. Florida Center for Instructional Technology.

Timeline. State Library and Archives of Florida.

Florida Quick Facts.

Top 5 Florida Industries: Which Parts of the Economy Are Strongest? Florida Economic Development Council.

Florida Industry Maps. Enterprise Florida.

Commuting Trends in Florida: A Special Report from FDOT Forecasting and Trends Office. (February 2018). Florida Department of Transportation.

Why Are So Many People Moving Out of the Northeast? (December 2018). Governing.

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