City's job creation on cusp of surge
Published: Saturday, January 6, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 5, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.
Gainesville's job market is set to give other cities a run for their money in 2007, according to a recent employment survey.
For the first quarter of 2007, 57 percent of the Gainesville area companies interviewed plan to hire more employees. Another 43 percent expect to maintain their current staff levels.
That is the third best outlook in the nation among 460 markets, according to Manpower Inc., a research firm based in Milwaukee that conducted the survey.
Industries like construction, manufacturing, transportation and public utilities, retail trade, education and public administration reported the best job prospects, said Andrea Sugden, spokeswoman for Manpower in Gainesville.
The news is no surprise to Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce Chairman Brent Christensen.
Thanks to Gainesville's insulation from economic fluctuations due to having two major educational institutions and a large health care component, the employment situation will always be strong, Christensen said.
"Both of those industries continue to grow and we'll see steady growth for years to come," Christensen said. "We're also seeing other sectors in and around Gainesville (such as biotechnology firms and distribution centers like Wal-Mart and Sysco) generate hundreds of jobs."
That kind of growth, Christensen added, is making the Gainesville area an attractive option for industries looking to open shop.
"We're starting to hit on all cylinders to create new jobs," Christensen said. "It's the fruits of the community's work."
Thirty Gainesville-area businesses participated in Manpower's survey. Of the 14,000 U.S. employers surveyed, 23 percent expect to add to their payrolls during the first quarter of 2007 while 11 percent expect to reduce staff levels.
No Gainesville employers planned to reduce their payrolls.
In Florida, only Broward County had a higher expectation to hire, at 59 percent. In Tallahassee, by comparison, 10 percent of their companies expected to hire more, 77 percent expected no change, 3 percent expected a decrease and 10 percent answered "don't know."
In Gainesville in the fourth quarter, 30 percent of the companies interviewed planned to hire more employees, and 3 percent planned to decrease staff.
For some Gainesville area businesses, the promising employment outlook is being fueled by increasing profits and steady business.
Milito Zapata, vice president of operations for Trunnell Construction, said there's a lot of strength in the Gainesville market for construction jobs. In a time when the housing market is experiencing a slump in sales in Gainesville, the market for condos and commercial real estate is booming, Zapata said.
That means more projects — and ultimately — more opportunities for workers seeking employment, Zapata said.
"In terms of hiring, we and other companies are careful and are expanding slowly," Zapata said. "But there's certainly a good possibility the need (for workers) is going to be there for a long time. Gainesville is the place to come if you're looking for a job in construction."
Deborah Ball can be reached at 338-3109 or balld@gvillesun. com.
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