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Picking a Fight with Economists

Posted on the 07 February 2011 by Candacemoody @candacemoody

I’m not an economist.  They are generally really smart people who do lots of math.  They are also the people who make predictions about economic recovery.  In this, they have a track record that is roughly the equivalent of mine with winning lottery numbers.

I say this to set up a story that appeared in Forbes this week about America’s Best and Worst Job Markets .  Forbes methodology “relied equally on the latest metro unemployment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and on‘s monthly Job Search Difficulty Index for Major Cities.”  Moody’s Economy.comprovided additional analysis for the trends in each labor market on the lists.

Not surprisingly, many of the best job markets were in places where government was one of the strongest industry sectors.  (Washington DC was number one.) Many state capitals were right behind in the ranking, including Oklahoma City, Austin and Boston.  Salt Lake City, New York, NY and Milwaukee, Wisconsin all made the “best” list, and the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area should be “fully” recovered by mid-2011, far ahead of the rest of the nation.

The worst markets list starts out with Florida.  Orlando leads the list at number 10, and our own Jacksonville comes in at number nine (Miami weighs in at number three.)  Here’s where I part ways with our economist friends at Forbes.  The Jacksonville analysis reads:

Unemployment rate: 11.6%; Job-seekers per opening: 4.34

A slowdown in manufacturing and packaging has contributed to the Jacksonville area’s high unemployment rate, which could remain above 11% through this year, projects Moody’s Says a recent analysis by the firm:  ”The risk of a second recession is uncomfortably high” in Jacksonville.”

It’s possible, even probable, that we’ll stay in double digit unemployment for the year, but here on the ground, we see hiring picking up dramatically this year.  Online job postings both in ourEmploy Florida system and in other online resources are up 25% year over year.  It’s true that manufacturing and residential construction jobs may not ever come back to pre-recession levels; our inventory of vacant homes is very high, just like San Diego, Detroit and Las Vegas, which are all on the list.  

The analysis overlooks some of our strong industry sectors, which are showing early signs of life in 2011.  Health care, financial services and logistics and transportation are all adding jobs.  The business people I speak to are reporting that activity and orders are on the rise.

They call economics “the dismal science” for good reason.  I’m more optimistic about Jacksonville’s immediate future.  What about you?

Read the full report here:

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