The Cities of Florida with the Highest Job Opportunities

The Cities of Florida with the Highest Job Opportunities

When investing in real estate, smart money goes where the jobs are. Job growth indicates a strong economy and rising demand for housing. And Florida is one of the states with the strongest job growth on the horizon.

According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the state has added over 463,000 jobs over the past year, with the most growth in leisure and hospitality, trades, education, and health services. The state already has the lowest unemployment rate of the ten largest states. And a projected 858,000 jobs will come to Florida by 3030.

If you’re planning to invest in Florida, here are the top markets with the highest job opportunities.

1. Jacksonville

  • Top employers: United States Navy, Amazon, Baptist Health, Bank of America

  • Total employment: 826,122

  • Projected employment growth by 2030: +9.0%

  • Fastest growing employment sectors: Professional and scientific services, health care, food service

Northeast Florida is home to just over 1.6 million Americans and is growing fast. The area grew by 19% from 2010 to 2020, adding more than a quarter-million to the population. The city’s geography makes it an ideal transportation and logistics hub, and its three US naval facilities directly employ tens of thousands.

Employment is projected to grow by 9% by 2030, with top gains in professional services and health care. Job-creating developments include a new headquarters for FIS which will bring its local workforce to approximately 1,800, a new 162,000-square-foot headquarters for the city’s public utility, JEA, and a seven-story tower for Wolfson Children’s Hospital that promises to add 75 neonatal and 26 pediatric intensive care beds.

Housing developments to support this growth include a mixed-use development totaling 396 homes and over 54,000 square feet of retail space in the city’s Brooklyn neighborhood, a $535-million mixed-use development bringing 950 homes, 147 hotel rooms, 125 marina slips, and four acres of public park space in Southbank, and a 247-unit apartment building in the Sports & Entertainment district.

As an investor, you’ll appreciate Jacksonville’s below-average barrier to entry. The median real estate listing asks just $197 per square foot, compared with $234 in Orlando and $307 in Greater Fort Lauderdale.

2. Fort Lauderdale

  • Top employers: Broward County Public Schools, Broward County, Memorial Healthcare System, Broward Health, Nova Southeastern University

  • Total employment: 1,056,652

  • Projected employment growth by 2030: +6.9%

  • Fastest growing employment sectors: Professional and scientific services, food service, healthcare

Broward County is home to 1.9 million people, 182,000 of whom live in the City of Fort Lauderdale. This central division of the Miami metropolitan area is also the epicenter of job growth in the region, having added 61,500 new jobs over the past year. Employment is forecasted to grow by a further 6.9% by 2030.

In Fort Lauderdale itself, at least 20 developments are planned or underway. By 2030, the Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Authority (DDA) forecasts the city will add 13,000 homes, 1.1-million square feet of office space, and a thousand new hotel rooms. Highlights include a four-tower mixed-use development, a $960-million campus to be shared by the city and county, and a cultural center in the city’s Flagler Village neighborhood with a concert hall, food market, event space, and adjacent 30-story condo building.

For real estate investors, Fort Lauderdale offers various properties starting at around $300,000. It’s also a good location for short-term rentals with an enduring tourism industry and more lenient vacation rental rules than those in nearby areas like Miami-Dade.

3. West Palm Beach

  • Top employers: Palm Beach County School District, Palm Beach County, Tenet Healthcare, NextEra Energy, Florida Atlantic University

  • Total employment: 752,750

  • Projected employment growth by 2030: +7.1%

  • Fastest growing employment sectors: Professional and scientific services, food service, healthcare

Farther up the coast from Fort Lauderdale is Palm Beach County, another fast-growing area home to the cities of West Palm Beach and Boca Raton. Employment has grown by 4.9% over the past year and is expected to grow by another 62,000 jobs by the end of this decade.

The City of West Palm Beach is the area’s economic driver and where growth is happening. Projects planned for the city include a mixed-use development with approximately 350 homes and 58,000 square feet of retail and office space in Northwood Village, a 25-story downtown office tower aimed at financial tenants, and an affordable housing project comprising 52 live-work units in Northwood Village.

As an investor, you’ll find that West Palm Beach offers better value than other cities in the Miami metropolitan area. The median sale price is just $338,000, and multi-unit properties under $500,000 are plentiful. You’ll also find the area friendly to vacation rentals if you’re interested in taking advantage of local tourism. And if you’re concerned about natural disasters, you’ll be happy to know the National Hurricane Center puts West Palm Beach at the lowest risk for a storm surge of all the coastal cities on this list.

4. Orlando

  • Top employers: Walt Disney World Resort, AdventHealth, Universal Orlando, Orlando Health, Orlando International Airport

  • Total employment: 1,385,991

  • Projected employment growth by 2030: +10.2%

  • Fastest growing employment sectors: Professional and scientific services, food service, administrative services

Orlando is America’s destination for family-friendly tourism, with a healthy economy driven by entertainment giants, including Disney and Universal. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says the city was second in the country for job growth in 2021, and Orlando Economic Partnership claims 1,000 people move to the area weekly.

Go for a walk around downtown Orlando, and you won’t have to look far to see a crane building, another component of the city’s future. Creative Village, a 68-acre “innovation district” on the former Amway Arena site, is a shining example of growth. The recently completed first phase comprises almost 1,000 housing units, 28,000 square feet of retail space, and a massive campus that’s home to 1,000 employees of Electronic Arts.

Another notable development in Orlando is a proposed Sports Entertainment District adjacent to the Amway Center. The $200-million project will include a hotel, conference center, and entertainment venue, 300 residential units and over 300,000 square feet of retail and office space.

Orlando is a good choice for investors because of the variety the city has to offer. Plenty of apartments and single-family homes are available for less than $200,000, and a small number of multi-unit properties on the market. Outside of the city, there are also many investment opportunities that will appeal to employees of major employers including the theme parks and airport.

5. Tampa

  • Top employers: State of Florida, United States Air Force, Baycare Health, Publix Super Markets, Hillsborough County School District

  • Total employment: 1,627,837

  • Projected employment growth by 2030: +9.2%

  • Fastest growing employment sectors: Professional and scientific services, health care, administrative services

Tampa is one of the country’s fastest-growing big cities and is poised for tremendous growth. The city boasts the closest deep-water port to the Panama Canal, a top-rated international airport, and central access to the state’s other big cities. And the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council says that Hillsborough County is 4th in the country for employment growth.

Proposed and in-progress developments in the city include a 16-story midtown office tower, a $25-million renovation to the historic Floridan Palace Hotel, and a proposed mixed-use development featuring over 1,000 homes and 32,000 square feet of retail space on the Hillsborough River next to the University of Tampa. Several residential projects are underway, including a 325-unit apartment complex in the city’s Westshore neighborhood and a 430-unit complex.

From an investment perspective, Tampa looks very similar to Orlando. Both cities have about the same number of people, real estate prices and rents are similar, and the variety of investment opportunities is strong in both cities. What makes Tampa desirable is its quality of life. U.S. News ranks Tampa higher than Orlando for the strength of the job market, quality of life, and overall safety.

Final Thoughts

Florida is growing rapidly and is projected to continue generating over 1,000 new jobs every week through the end of the decade. If you’re looking to invest in real estate in Florida, you’ll find that job growth is concentrated in Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Orlando, and Tampa.

Learn more about being a Florida landlord with our Florida Real Estate Investing Guide.

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Saad started his career as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) working for a top-tier accounting firm. He was responsible for helping audit alternative investment funds. He later worked at a hedge fund where he was responsible for preparing financial statements and implementing new technology. He also ran a successful private tax practice for five years.

After completing his MBA at Duke, Saad joined The Boston Consulting Group to do management consulting. At BCG his experience spanned several industries and growth projects across Pharma, Retail, and Technology companies. His passion for democratizing finances led him to Plaid, a fintech, where he worked with large Banks and Financial Institutions to make finances and money easier for all.
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