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Business Observer Thursday, Sep. 2, 2021 11 months ago

Skills gap remains toughest obstacle to filling jobs in Florida

The state has recovered nearly one million jobs since the beginning of the pandemic, but there's more to go.

Help wanted signs are as prevalent around nearly every Florida city as snowballs on the North Pole, but according to one data point the Florida jobs machine is warming up.

Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation Chief Economist Jerry Parrish says the state has recovered more than 950,000 jobs since April 2020, the beginning of the pandemic. Over the last two months the state has gained 140,000 jobs, he says, bringing the total jobs recovered for the year to 264,300 through July. 

On the flip side, Chamber Foundation data shows 315,800 jobs that existed before the pandemic have not been filled, while there are now an additional 215,000 unfilled jobs that didn’t exist in March 2020. “We still have a few to go to get back to the pre-COVID peak of more than 9 million non-farm jobs,” says Parrish, speaking in a late August By the Numbers video for the Chamber Foundation.

Getting those jobs filled is the rub. Parrish says there’s now 545,200 job openings in Florida — and 530,000 unemployed people. About 194,000 of those jobs, 64%, are in leisure and hospitality, while another 30,000 are in education and health service and some 27,000 are in trade and transportation, Chamber data shows. Parrish, in noting the shortfall, says “there’s simply not enough Floridians with the proper skills to fill in the gaps,” according to the Center Square, a statewide news site, and employers in Florida still face a “workforce crisis as we work our way back to pre-COVID numbers.”


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