West Palm Beach, Fla. (March 13, 2023) – 2023 started strong for job seekers with January’s 2.6 percent unemployment rate near historic lows, and well below the year-ago rate of 3.7 percent, according to the latest reports released today by CareerSource Palm Beach County and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (all numbers not seasonally adjusted):
- The county’s rate remains below the 3.9 percent national rate and matches Florida’s 2.6 percent rate. The county’s rate has remained below the nation’s for more than two years and stayed at or below 3.0 percent for a full year.
- For more than a year, there have been more job openings than unemployed people in Palm Beach County. There are 30,398 job openings vs. 19,677 unemployed people in January.
- Total nonagricultural employment in the county is 678,200 adding 23,100 jobs over the year – a 3.5 percent gain.
Palm Beach County’s unemployment rate reached two record lows in 2022 with the latest record low set in December at 2.2 percent. Outside of the Great Depression, the county’s record high unemployment rate reached 14.7 percent in April 2020.
“January’s employment report is very strong,” said Julia Dattolo, President and CEO of CareerSource Palm Beach County, the nonprofit organization chartered by the state to lead workforce development in Palm Beach County. “We expect a continued tight labor market easing a bit with the traditional summer season slowdown in mid-2023. The most in-demand jobs will continue to be in the hospitality/tourism, healthcare, and trades/transportation industry sectors.”
Job growth/loss by industry sector: For more than a year, the leisure/hospitality industry sector has led the county in over-the-year job growth – adding 8,600 jobs for a 9.8 percent jump. Jobs in three industry sectors – leisure/hospitality, financial activities, and government -- grew faster in the county than statewide over the year.
By the numbers, there were over-the-year job gains in eight sectors in Palm Beach County:
Industry Change Total jobs
Leisure/hospitality +8,600 jobs 96,700
Education/health services +3,100 jobs 107,300
Professional/business services +3,100 jobs 133,200
Trade/transportation/utilities +2,300 jobs 124,200
Government +2,300 jobs 63,900
Financial activities +2,100 jobs 49,400
Construction +1,300 jobs 41,100
Manufacturing +800 jobs 21,400
Information unchanged 10,900
Other services -500 jobs 29,900
Trends Observed This Period
- Continued tight job market
- Continued strong consumer demand
- Overall product/supply chain disruptions continue to ease
- Record tourism season in Palm Beach County
- Inflation not slowing as quickly as expected
- High costs of housing, food
- Higher interest rates may weaken worker leverage in job market, lead to layoffs
Employment Outlook for 2023
Palm Beach County will continue to trend better than state, nation: Palm Beach County’s unemployment rate has remained below the nation for more than two years and has been below or matched the state rate for nine months in 2022. We expect a continued tight labor market to mid-2023 with the most in-demand jobs in the hospitality/tourism, healthcare, and trades/transportation industry sectors.
Local and national conditions will continue to impact the job market:
• Mass exodus of baby boomers: Labor force participation for people over 55 remains well below pre-pandemic levels. According to the Pew Research Center, some 2 million baby boomers retire each year. In 2020, this number appears to have grown to a historic high: over 3 million decided to end their careers. Their accelerated departure from the labor force with decades of experience is hard to replace and most have not been returning to the workplace after leaving.
• Lowest birth rates in U.S. history: The national birth rate, already in decline, hit a 35-year low in 2019, and the relative size of the working-age population has been shrinking since 2008. While boomers were born into families with an average of four children each, boomers had an average of just 1.8 children. Thus, as they leave the workforce, there simply aren’t enough workers to replace them.
• Shortfall of 20-somethings: The Wall Street Journal reports a shortfall of about half a million workers in their early 20s compared to 2019 levels. While caretaking is reported as the main reason for this age group staying out of the job market, other reasons include choosing to further their education, workplace health concerns, and waiting for the right opportunity to come along in a tight market. This group represents the future of the labor force and presents even more significant challenges to recruiting efforts.
Creative hiring/recruiting: Besides raising wages and offering signing/retention bonuses, employers have been offering perks such as flexible work schedules, 4-day work weeks, full or part-time work from home, childcare, and other benefits. Employers also are turning to less experienced workers, people with minor criminal backgrounds, and foreign workers to help fill staffing gaps.
Flexible work environment: A popular strategy is the flexible work environment, in which in-person, hybrid, and remote work combine to meet business needs. Surveys have found that employees like the idea of eliminating or reducing commuting costs along with lower spending on meals, entertainment, personal services, and shopping.
Growth in AI/automation: With employers being forced to operate with fewer workers in many industry sectors, the use of artificial intelligence/automation will continue to increase. Online commerce is increasing along with more self-serve activities such as the use of kiosks for ordering food, hotel check-in, etc. eliminating several routine jobs.
Looking for a New Career in the New Year? Looking to Hire? Here’s Help!
CareerSource offers virtual and in-person job fairs, classes, and facilities for job searches, grants for job skills training for those who qualify, career development and consulting – at no cost! During the past five program years, CareerSource Palm Beach County assisted nearly 45,000 residents find employment/reemployment ranging from entry-level to executive suite, with salaries from these jobs creating $700 million in annual wages. CareerSource also awarded $14.7 million in grants to area businesses and employees for job training and educational assistance during that time. More information is at www.careersourcepbc.com.
CareerSource also provides services to help businesses prosper 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.
Next employment report coming March 24: State and local employment reports for Jan. and Feb. 2023 are scheduled for release, respectively, on March 13 and 24, 2023. At the beginning of each year, there is a lag in reporting Jan. and Feb. employment data as the government recalibrates historical data factoring in new population inputs and revisions to economic data, creating changes in the original statistics.
Note to editors: You are invited to interview a CareerSource spokesperson on local employment and economic trends. Please call 561.340.1061 ext. 2229 for scheduling before 3 p.m. today.
Note: The unemployment rate is a measure of how many people in the labor force are out of a job. For example, if total employment holds constant and unemployed Americans stop looking for work, thereby leaving the labor force, the unemployment rate will fall even though no jobs have been added. Conversely, if employment holds steady and recent graduates enter the labor force looking for work, the unemployment rate will rise even though no jobs have disappeared.
IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE STEVENS AMENDMENT:
CareerSource Palm Beach County, Inc. is the direct service provider for various workforce programs supported by the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and other agencies as part of awards totaling $15,851,406 (revised annually). Unless otherwise stipulated, all statements, news releases, requests for proposals, bid solicitations and other applicable documents are fully funded from federal sources.