Where to Start Your Florida Job Search

Florida Job Search

 Florida’s economy shows healthy job growth, but some cities offer better opportunity.

Signs of a healthy economy are mentioned regularly on the nightly news these days.  Florida’s economy is growing faster than the national average as it added over 200,000 jobs in the last 12 months.  But none of those things matter if you are out of work or underemployed. Sometimes finding the right job means checking other job markets.  We’ve crunched the numbers in Florida’s biggest cities and found the best places to job hunt in Florida.

While finding a job is the top priority when looking for work, securing an income is only one aspect of managing a household.  Whether a job is the right fit can depends on how much you are making and your cost of living.  One way to factor this in is to look at the percent of income required to pay rent and your take home pay.  We looked at these numbers and then factored in the current unemployment rates to uncover some of the most promising job markets.

Rank City Pop. Income Rent UE 2013 UE 2015 Pay after Rent
1 Cape Coral 165,831 $49,170 $900 5.2% 5.1% $38,370
2 St. Petersburg 249,688 $45,044 $1,149 4.9% 4.7% $31,256
3 Jacksonville 842,583 $47,557 $975 5.9% 5.4% $35,857
4 Pensacola 52,703 $44,144 $925 5.7% 5.2% $33,044
5 Tampa 352,957 $43,242 $1,090 5.2% 4.8% $30,162
6 Tallahassee 181,376 $39524 $760 5.3% 4.9% $30,404
7 Port St. Lucie 171,016 $48,962 $939 6.4% 6.3% $37,694
8 Orlando 255,483 $42,147 $1,170 5.0% 4.7% $28,107
9 West Palm Beach 102,436 $44,897 $1,177 5.2% 5.2% $30,773
10 Fort Lauderdale 172,389 $49,119 $1,697 5.1% 4.9% $28,755
11 Melbourne 77,508 $40,662 $9,85 5.9% 5.6% $28,842
12 Gainesville 127,488 $32,492 $847 5.0% 4.5% $22,328
13 Panama City 36,877 $37,993 $1,299 5.2% 5.0% $22,405
14 Miami 408,568 $30,375 $1,726 6.4% 6.2% $9,663

Looking at these numbers across Florida, it is easy to see where the best opportunities can be found. Cape Coral is the strongest candidate for job seekers with a 22% ratio of income to rent and the highest take home pay.  St. Petersburg is a close second, offering an above average household income, reasonable property values, and an unemployment rate well below the state average of 5.2%.

Jacksonville rounds out the top three, owing its rank to higher pay and lower rent. Pensacola and  Tampa made the top five, showing that the West coast of Florida has some good opportunities. At the bottom of the list is Miami, with the second highest unemployment rates and a median rent that is almost twice that of other Florida cities. So if you are struggling to make ends meat in South Florida, maybe it’s time for a change of scenery.

With the Florida economy growing and adding jobs each month, the unemployed and underemployed have a reason to be optimistic.  Looking for work in the right places can be the difference between being employed and being gainfully employed. Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

Methodology:  How’d we come up with these rankings?

Cities were ranked based on the relationship between three variables: Income, rent, and unemployment rates.  It would seem obvious that the most important thing job seekers would want to look at is the unemployment rate. However, finding a job but not being able to comfortably afford housing is a less than ideal situation.  Therefore, we subtracted the cost of median rent from median gross annual income and then factored in its relationship to the unemployment in that area.  This resulted in a unique comparison of income, cost of living, and unemployment.

 Data sources: Where’d we get the numbers?

Income The income figures are from the US Census 2009-2013 American Community Survey 5-year estimates.
Rent The rental rates were obtained from Rentbits.com, an online rental resource.
Unemployment 2013 The 2013 unemployment figures are also from the US Census 2009-2013 American Community Survey 5-year estimates.
Unemployment 2015 The 2015 unemployment figures are more current, but reflect county unemployment rates released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

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