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Sunday 27 January 2013

First Coast Job Market damaged by Global Recession, Real Estate, Home Construction and Financing posts on the skids

As the Great Recession has set back and even wiped out countless middle-class jobs worldwide, First Coast economists warn job hunters to gear their professional interests away from some traditional trades.
Candace Moody, vice president of communications for WorkSource on the First Coast, said the North Florida job market is hardly unscathed.
“The first [trade] that comes to mind is construction,” Moody said. “It wasn’t that long ago that every single construction worker on the First Coast was employed.”
Part of the trigger to the recession was the collapse of the housing market, and in Northeast Florida that left a glut of new homes. Moody said home construction will obviously continue at some pace, but it’s not likely to return to the level and corresponding employment seen before 2008.
“That will probably never be replicated,” she said. “Most of those workers found that when we had a surplus of homes with foreclosures coming on [and] are not going to find work again.”
WorkSource, which helps residents in six First Coast counties develop careers, is already retraining construction workers to apply their skills to commercial construction, which has vast technical differences than residential construction.
University of North Florida economist Paul Mason said although most First Coast professions remain intact after the recession, specialized occupations have been affected.
“There’s a sizeable hit to financial services that’s going to be slow to recover,” Mason said. “They’ve in effect wiped out middle management.”
In Jacksonville alone, Mason said, that means hundreds of jobs. He said mergers such as Wachovia with Wells Fargo has disrupted a stable entry-level managerial workforce. He added some institutions have simply pulled up stakes and left town as a result of the financial upheaval or even before the recession.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity figures released last week that showed there was a uptick of 1,200 additional jobs added to the financial sector in Jacksonville in 2012. But there are fewer of the positions that used to be offered to new college graduates.
“It’s definitely gotten better, but if you go back to the 1990s and before 2006, people were getting those entry-level managements jobs,” Mason said.
Moody said jobs such as mortgage brokers and even real estate agents have been severely reduced because of the unstable housing market.
Investor services also have downsized, Mason said, as stock brokerage firms have consolidated and cut their personnel.
Even service-industry jobs for those workers right out of high school are in jeopardy, Moody said.
“A lot of young people are not getting those jobs that we grew up on as teenagers,” she said. “Companies like McDonald’s are putting in automated drink servers for the customers themselves. … All those things that used to be done manually are now being done by technology and that’s going to accelerate.”
The same goes for manufacturing and logistics, which also are using automation to load goods onto trucks and trains from warehouses, Moody said.
WorkSource trains about 3,000 people each year for career transitions, Moody said. Much of that now focuses on people moving into the health-care industry.
“Health care, and this is true in the state as well, never went into negative job numbers. Even during the height of the recession it was still creating jobs here on the First Coast,” Moody said. “It’s an incredibly important industry. As the baby boomer population ages, we’re going to need more and more health services.”
Mason said job seekers who are either looking to change careers or who are coming out of college should start arming themselves with more than just a standard college degree.
“The economy is going to depend on high tech and those occupations that are dependent on education beyond a bachelor’s degree,” Mason said. “One recommendation I have is that students seek graduate-level education.
“That’s because the acceleration in salaries is often going to be dependent on the level of education that you’ve acquired. The standard management-trainee kind of jobs have diminished dramatically.”

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