A jobs recovery in Southwest Florida brings its own challenges.
Shelton Weeks, the chair of economics and finance at the Lutgert College of Business at Florida Gulf Coast University, recently spoke about the regional economy to the CFA Society Naples, the association of money managers in Southwest Florida.
First, the good news: Nonfarm employment in Southwest Florida is now above the peak in 2006. Wages in construction and hospitality have been rising. What’s more, the share of volatile construction jobs is lower now than it was during the boom. And in Collier County, financial-service employment has surpassed the peak 10 years ago.
“Our markets have really recovered,” Weeks says.
But jobs in leisure and hospitality have surged ahead and an economic downturn could have negative consequences for the area because tourism is highly sensitive to economic cycles. “Our exposure to leisure and hospitality, particularly in Lee, is getting larger,” Weeks warned.
Still, barring an economic downturn, we’re likely to see issues such as housing affordability return to the forefront, especially in Collier County. “It’s a good problem to have,” Weeks says.