Southwest Florida Shows Rapid Gains in Job Growth

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When you are a governor running for re-election in November 2014, any indication of increased job growth is welcome news. Such is the case with Governor Rick Scott of Florida, who just announced an additional 8,800 jobs created in the metropolitan area of Naples. This represents the most significant job growth of anywhere in the state.

IRS data shows that between 1992 and 2010, Collier County, Florida – and, more specifically, the Naples-Marco Island metropolitan statistical area (MSA) –gained a $10.8 billion share of Florida’s total $96 billion in positive adjusted gross income (AGI). This area outpaced the growth of the Orlando, Tampa, and Miami MSAs.

It is clear from data presented by the governor’s office that the Naples-Marco Island MSA continues along on its rapid pattern of growth. Over the past 12 months, the area’s unemployment rate dropped from 8.5 percent to 6.7 percent. Overall, the unemployment rate for the entire state dropped from 7 percent to 6.7 percent between August and October 2013, bringing it lower than the national unemployment rate of 7.3. This is the kind of good news that a candidate likes to tout while on the campaign trail.

Naples is located on the southeast coast of Florida. It has become an enclave of mostly wealthy individuals, expatriated from the Midwest. With this type of demographic, the need for service sector jobs is rapidly increasing, as are restaurants and retail opportunities. Healthcare and technology are also major sectors, but as you might suspect, the area’s greatest source of revenue comes from tourist spending. This industry has made a remarkable comeback since the recession of 2008.

The actual labor force in the Naples-Marco MSA grew from 149,493 in October 2012 to 155,261 in October 2013, or roughly 3.6 percent. Property values have also outpaced the rest of the state. The real estate market is booming, and according to, the median home price in this area is now $343,000. Data shows that an astounding 70 percent of real estate transactions are made in cash. A portion of the area’s growth may also be attributed to the $2 million marketing campaign conducted by Collier County.

Governor Scott has made the state’s economic growth the cornerstone of his re-election strategy; this approach is supported by numbers that suggest slashing the budget and making additional modest tax reductions have contributed to increased job creation. The governor recently announced the expansion of iSerona Corporation in Panama City, rather than in California’s Silicon Valley, Texas, or Virginia, all of which were considered as potential new locations. But this gain pales in comparison to the recent dedication of Hertz Corporation’s new headquarters, located just north of Naples.

Unlike fellow Republican governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, who recently sailed to a major re-election victory, Governor Scott is expected to have a much tougher slog next year against his potential opponent, former governor Charlie Crist. So continued positive job creation numbers will bode well for him at the voting booth. It is anticipated that the Naples-Marco Island will continue to help with the voters’ assessment of him.