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Rich Thompson
Jax Daily Record Monday, May 19, 201412:00 PM EST

Jacksonville 'quite the attractive place' for jobs


If you’re not in government, chances are that jobs in your profession are growing in Jacksonville.

Of course, some industries are growing far more and much faster than others, but in general, almost all job categories in Jacksonville’s private industries are expanding.

The human resource chief for Adecco Group North America, the global staffing company that is moving its headquarters and 185 senior positions to Jacksonville, expects the area’s job growth will continue.

“Across the board, it is a pretty good picture. Jacksonville seems to be quite the attractive place,” said Rich Thompson, chief human resources officer for the staffing company, which already has 354 corporate positions in town.

Thompson said the Jacksonville labor market seems to be strong.

“It’s going to maintain at the pace we are at right now for the near term for sure,” he said.

“I think it’s going to be a nice steady growth for several months to come. Florida still continues to be an area where it is typically a lower cost of living,” he said.

Thompson said Adecco’s reports show a strong hiring trend in professional services, business services, financial activities, finance, accounting, logistics and health care.

“Professional level jobs are still in demand,” he said.

Thompson said construction jobs also are gaining strength, while statistics show public-sector jobs are dropping. State numbers released Friday show a drop of 300 jobs in the government sector. Manufacturing jobs also rose, gaining 400 jobs.

With more jobs came lower unemployment.

The state reported that the five-county Jacksonville metropolitan area gained 20,100 jobs over the year, as of April, for a 3.3 percent growth rate.

Consequently, the unemployment rate dropped from 6.8 percent to 5.6 percent.

Duval County had by far the largest labor force, at almost 460,000 people, which accounts for 64 percent of the metro total. It had an even larger share of the total unemployment, 69 percent, reflecting its position as the dominant county for people looking for work.

Of the five counties, Duval had the highest unemployment rate, at 6 percent, while St. Johns had the lowest, at 4.6 percent.

Job growth resulted from people spending money.

The highest rates of job growth came in leisure and hospitality, which means people are traveling, having fun and eating out; professional and business services, which means companies are doing more business and need employees to take care of it; and construction, which indicates people need new homes, condos and apartments and businesses need new stores, offices and operations.

Jacksonville’s job growth also includes creative, younger employees.

“Look at One Spark,” Thompson said, referring to the April crowdfunding festival that attracted an estimated 260,000 people Downtown during the five-day event.

Of the attendees, 59 percent were under the age of 44, according to a University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Laboratory study for Visit Jacksonville.

The demographics reflected a well-educated audience. UNF found that 64 percent of those surveyed reported a four-year college or graduate degree and 49 percent reported annual household income of $65,000 or more.

“What an amazing and very unique environment and creative festival to attract innovative, entrepreneurial and creative people,” Thompson said.

“The fact we have that in Jacksonville would speak quite nicely to the up-and-coming future workforce within our city,” he said.

Thompson, a Midwestern native who moved to town 15 months ago from Adecco’s global headquarters in Zurich, said Jacksonville is a comfortable and easy place to live, with friendly people and a lot to offer.

“Jacksonville is doing fine,” he said.

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