Published Friday, January 20, 2017

West Palm Beach, Fla. (Jan. 20, 2017) – 2016 ends with a low 4.7 percent unemployment rate for Florida and Palm Beach County. The county’s Dec. 2016 rate also declined 0.2 percentage points from November, but was slightly higher than the year ago rate of 4.5 percent (all numbers not seasonally adjusted) according to reports released today by CareerSource Palm Beach County and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

“The unemployment rate is among the lowest we’ve seen in eight years. Palm Beach County gained nearly 10,000 jobs over the year and there were more than 18,000 advertised jobs available in the county in December,” said Steve Craig, president and chief executive officer of CareerSource Palm Beach County, the nonprofit organization chartered by the state to lead workforce development in Palm Beach County.   

Mr. Craig also noted that Palm Beach County’s unemployment rate in 2016 ranged between 4.2 and 5.2 percent (primarily reflecting seasonal fluctuations) and he expects that trend to continue in 2017. This compares favorably with state and national levels, and is less than half of what it was at the 11.6 percent peak unemployment rate of the Great Recession in Palm Beach County in summer 2010.

The year-end report comes on top of other healthy economic indicators – record-setting tourism, increased consumer confidence, rising sales tax revenues and a robust real estate market along with low inflation and interest rates.

Job growth by industry sector: Palm Beach County gained 9,900 jobs over the year led by leisure/hospitality (+3,700 jobs). Gains in other sectors were education/health services (+2,200 jobs); construction (+1,300 jobs); trade/transportation/utilities (+1,000 jobs); government (+900 jobs); other services (+800 jobs); and professional/business services (+700 jobs).  Over the year job growth in other services and government matched or exceeded the statewide rate for these categories.  Industry sectors that lost jobs over the year were financial activities (-500 jobs); manufacturing (-100 jobs); and information (-100 jobs).

Top 5 most advertised jobs available in Palm Beach County: The Conference Board produces a monthly report of advertised jobs by position. The latest top 5 most help-wanted ads in the county are for:

  1. Registered nurses
  2. Retail salespeople
  3. First-line supervisors of retail sales workers
  4. First-line supervisors of food preparation and serving workers
  5. Accountants

Solid job growth expected to continue in 2017: Growth in Palm Beach County’s labor force is expected to increase in 2017 with demand expected in these top 5 key industry sectors:

  1. Healthcare/life sciences
  2. Hospitality/tourism
  3. Education
  4. Aviation/aerospace/engineering
  5. Construction

Palm Beach County ranked 15 in employment growth among 344 largest U.S. counties, according to the latest report from the U. S. Dept. of Labor. According to the report, employment increases in the county also topped that for the state and more than doubled the national level in second quarter 2016 compared to the same time last year (latest period available).

Top 10 fastest-growing occupations:  8 of the top 10 fastest-growing occupations in Palm Beach County between 2016 and 2024 are in the healthcare/life sciences sector, according to a Bureau of Labor Market Statistics report released in Dec. 2016. The top 10 occupations are:

  1. Physician assistants
  2. Nurse practitioners
  3. Diagnostic medical sonographers
  4. Clinical, counseling and school psychologists
  5. Marriage and family therapists
  6. Personal care aides
  7. Medical assistants
  8. Physical therapists
  9. Web developers
  10. Mechanical engineers

Intense growth in construction jobs in Palm Beach County is expected in 2017, fueled by infrastructure projects funded by the county sales tax increase and a healthy economic outlook.  Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker has asked CareerSource Palm Beach County to assist with local training and recruiting for these jobs. CareerSource soon will be announcing dates and locations for training fairs for construction firms and trade organizations.

This anticipated growth in Palm Beach County construction jobs reflects the strong demand expected in Florida. Nearly 90 percent of construction firms in Florida expect to expand headcount in 2017, according to a recent survey by the Associated General Contractors of America and Sage Construction and Real Estate. In addition, 80 percent responded that they were “having a hard time” filling positions and 60 percent said “worker shortages” was the biggest concern facing their business.

Whatever career you would like to pursue in the New Year, the staff at CareerSource offers classes and facilities for job search, career development and consulting; and grants for job skills training for those who qualify. During the past two program years, CareerSource Palm Beach County assisted nearly 45,000 residents find employment ranging from entry level to executive suite, with salaries from these jobs creating $860 million in annual average wages. 

Services for employers: CareerSource provides a comprehensive package of services to help businesses compete in today’s challenging marketplace. CareerSource absorbs the cost of most of these services including recruitment, assessments and referrals of qualified job candidates; space and staff assistance for screening/interviewing candidates; and grants for training employees. 

Services for career seekers: CareerSource is committed to help provide Palm Beach County residents with the opportunity to get a great job and build a career. On average, 7,500 visitors each month receive help from specialized services at two career centers:

-- Central Career Center-3400 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach, FL 33406; (561) 340-1060       
-- West Career Center-1085  S. Main Street, Belle Glade, FL 33430; (561) 829-2040

The centers offer classes and facilities for job search, career development and consulting; and grants for job skills training – all at no cost for career seekers. Schedules of workshops and employer hiring events are posted at www.careersourcepbc.com.

Next employment reports for Florida and Palm Beach County released in March: At the beginning of each year, there is a lag in reporting January and February employment data as the government recalibrates historical data factoring in new population inputs and revisions to economic data, which creates changes in the original statistics. State and local area employment reports for January 2017 are scheduled for release on March 13 followed by those for February 2017 on March 24.



#1 Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners Aerojet Rocketdyne Bank of America Bank United Baptist Health South Florida
Caler, Donten, Levine, Cohen, Porter & Veil, P.A. CareerSource Centennial Bank DePuy Synthes Power Tools, a Johnson & Johnson Company Equestrian Center
Florida Crystals Corporation FPL Greenberg Traurig Gunster Hardrives, Inc.
HCA Palm Beach Hospitals Hedrick Brothers Construction Hospital for Special Surgery J.C. White JP Morgan Chase
LRP Publications Martens Group Minto Communities, LLC NCCI Nova Southeastern University
Palm Beach Aggregates, LLC Palm Beach Park of Commerce PNC Bank Pratt & Whitney (A United Technologies Company) Raymond James Financial Services/Boynton Financial Group, Inc.
RSM South Florida Business & Wealth Magazine South Florida Business Journal Stiles-Nicholson Foundation TD Bank
Tortoise Properties Wells Fargo & Company Wexford Capital