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Cape Coral is where the jobs are

By Staff | Dec 24, 2015

If you’re looking for a job in 2016, Cape Coral is the place to go to find it again.

For the second straight year, the Cape Coral “Metropolitan Statistical Area,” or MSA, has been named the most vibrant market in the United States according to the latest Employment Outlook Survey from Milwaukee-based staffing giant ManpowerGroup.

The Cape Coral MSA includes Fort Myers and much of Lee County, including Sanibel and Captiva.

Although there is a bit of an asterisk in their figures, it is yet further proof that Cape Coral is continuing to grow and The Great Recession is further and further in the past as the city has a litany of new projects going up.

“It shows we’ve come back from the downturns and there’s opportunity here. It’s hard to turn a corner and not see construction right now,” Economic Development Director Dana Brunett said. “On Pine Island Road there are new plazas being built, the outparcels at the new Walmart and Sam’s Club are spoken for and under construction. We have things happening that are lighting the fuse.”

In the Cape Coral area, a net 35 percent said they plan to hire new staff in the first quarter of 2016, up from 32 percent a year ago. But Cape Coral’s number is a bit misleading this time of year, according to Judy Leppla, Manpower’s market vice president for Florida and Georgia.

The Cape Coral MSA includes the islands of Captiva and Sanibel, popular tourist destinations, and most of the jobs in the MSA are temporary and tourist-related, in hotels and restaurants that will only last through Florida’s winter tourist season.

Many of those jobs pay as low as $8.75 an hour, not much higher than Florida’s minimum of $8.05.

Other parts of Florida like Miami, St. Petersburg and Jacksonville, offer greater numbers of permanent jobs, the survey said.

Brunett said the survey is just an outlook and that with all the construction going on, those high-paying jobs are already here, with more on the horizon.

“Last year, 18 percent of the employers said they would hire. This year it was 37 percent. You can’t tell me tourism has doubled in a year,” Brunett said. “That’s a very important statistic. Tourism had a good year and should this year, but we don’t have much more additional capacity for tourism.”

“The numbers support what we’ve been saying continuously for the last year at the Horizon Council. The large and small businesses are feeling confident enough to bring on extra help,” Cape Coral City Councilmember Rana Erbrick said.

Manpower ranks the 100 most-populated MSAs each quarter. It surveys more than 11,000 employers in those cities with a multiple-choice question about whether they plan to add or cut jobs, keep employment levels the same, or haven’t yet decided.

The Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, Va. market was second in the survey, Honolulu was third. Hartford, Conn was rated the worst, but still had a net employment outlook of 1 percent.

Nationwide, the news is also good. The seasonally adjusted net employment outlook is 17 percent, the strongest first-quarter outlook since 2007 when it was 18 percent.

“We’ve seen strong jobs growth in the U.S. throughout 2015, along with declining unemployment and increasing wages, which brings a continued optimism for the start of 2016,” said Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup CEO, in a prepared statement.

Prising noted challenges in the energy and manufacturing sectors and in industries driven by exports. But job seekers are increasingly at an advantage as the unemployment rate comes down. It was unchanged in November at 5.0 percent.