by Karen Brune Mathis
Unemployment rates in Jacksonville, the state and the nation are hovering at double-digits, leaving job seekers wondering where to find work.
In Duval County, the rate topped 10 percent in January. State statistics showed that almost 56,000 Duval residents were looking for jobs.
The state has some idea where to find them, at least through 2017.
“Future hot jobs in Florida,” a projection by the Agency for Workforce Innovation, lists 20 job titles with annual growth rates of at least 2.9 percent or higher, which would outpace the average 1.8 percent rate among all occupations. To qualify as a hot job, it also had to offer an entry-level average wage of at least $10.29 an hour, or $21,403 a year.
“Hot jobs” range from medical assistants with an annual average entry-level wage of $22,548 to pharmacists with a starting average of $88,513, according to the state. In between are other medical professionals, data analysts, engineers, and specific construction and residential-related jobs.
The chair of a Jacksonville workforce study four years ago said the jobs are appreciated. The study is available at www.jcci.org.
“I definitely believe these are good jobs for Jacksonville,” said Adrienne Conrad, a partner with the McGuire Woods law firm and chair of the “Attracting and Retaining Talent” study in 2006 by Jacksonville Community Council Inc.
The study concluded that Jacksonville lacked sufficient high-skill, high-wage jobs to attract and retain a highly skilled, highly educated workforce. It offered recommendations to change that.
Conrad said the state’s “hot jobs” are compatible with the study’s findings.
“Specifically, the study focused on the fact that service jobs are not going to get Jacksonville to the next level,” she said. “Knowledge-based jobs such as technology jobs and jobs in the health care profession will provide the type of salaries needed to attract a talented workforce.”
The average annual entry-level wage of the 20 hot jobs was almost $39,000, the same as the average wage the JCCI study found in Jacksonville for 2004.
“There are some jobs on the list that will not move us forward in terms of higher wages,” Conrad said.
“Any job is better than no job, but as we look beyond the current economic situation, we will want to concentrate on the knowledge-based jobs that are listed at the higher end of the wage spectrum.”
Conrad was surprised to see roofers, cement masons and security and fire alarm installers listed as “hot jobs,” considering the soft housing market.
“It may reflect that more people are staying in their homes and repairing and adding on to them,” she said.
The state said that its list extends to 2017 and assumes a Florida economic recovery, including in the construction industry.
Florida Hot Jobs
State projections for fastest-growing jobs through 2017
|Job title||State average entry salary|
|Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts||$41,949|
|Computer Software Engineers, Applications||$50,476|
|Medical and Public Health Social Workers||$32,662|
|Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers||$25,831|
|Paralegals and Legal Assistants||$32,163|
|Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers||$23,831|
|Security and Fire Alarm Systems Installers||$26,962|
|Vocational Education Teachers, Post secondary||$30,203|
|Mental Health Counselors||$28,647|
|Computer Systems Analysts||$46,004|
Source: Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation