5 Best Cities in the Sunshine State for Work Not Retirement

Florida is well-known for being a major tourist destination and retirement hot spot. With its beaches, golf courses, theme parks, and warm weather, it's no mystery why so many people flock south. If you're interested in the Sunshine State for a long-term stay well before you hit retirement, you're in luck. Florida has the 15th largest economy in the world and the eighth largest economy in the Western Hemisphere. The same industries that draw tourists and retirees create many jobs for residents. Check out these cities for strong job growth, low unemployment, and ample opportunities.

Orlando: The Theme Park Hub of the U.S.

Disney Epcot theme park

Image via Flickr by Gary Storts

Orlando, Florida, enjoyed booming job growth of 4.7 percent between 2008 and 2013. Fortune Magazine ranked the city first in the nation for job growth in 2014, with a 3.7 percent increase in the first nine months of the year. This number indicates growth more than twice the national average. Orlando also enjoys a low unemployment rate of 5.2 percent compared to an average of 6.3 percent nationally. The economy in Central Florida is heavily based on tourism, with leisure and hospitality employing the largest percentage of the workforce, followed by trade, transportation, and utilities.

Not surprisingly, Orlando's top employer is Walt Disney World, with 53,500 employees. Universal Studios Orlando employs another 12,000. The same features that give Orlando its reputation as a popular tourist destination serve to provide ample jobs in the area, particularly for those seeking employment in hotels, restaurants, or attractions. Unfortunately, jobs with the city's major theme parks are not always well-paid. The average household income in the city is $42,418.

Naples: Growth Serving Baby Boomers With Big Nest Eggs

Pier overlooking ocean

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Among Florida's 200 largest metropolitan areas, Naples is expected to have the highest job growth at a rate of 4.1 percent through 2016. The city topped Forbes' list of the Best Cities for Job Growth in 2014. Naples is a wealthy community with fast growth in the retail industry. Though it is a popular spot for retirement, it's this very market that's fueling the abundance of jobs available in the area.

Construction jobs are also widely available in the area as new housing developments pop up throughout. Jobs in the construction industry have increased eight percent over the last year. Growth in professional and business services is close behind with a seven percent increase, while employment in manufacturing and other services has grown by more than six percent.

Cape Coral-Fort Myers: Big Growth in a Mid-Size Town

Water overlooking bridge

Image via Flickr by rickpilot_2000

As of November 2014, employment in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area of Florida was at a new high of 285,469. Approximately 2,300 new jobs were added that month alone. There's been a lot of buzz surrounding this area as a great place to find a job. Forbes named Cape Coral the sixth best place for future job growth in 2014. The Cape Coral-Fort Myers area also enjoyed the number four spot on Forbes list of the best midsize cities for jobs in 2014.

The area has grown rapidly in recent years. Since 2000, it has enjoyed a population growth of 45.65 percent. The cost of living is 2.8 percent lower than the national average, which is a notable accomplishment in a state where the cost of living is often high. Unemployment is low at 5.4 percent. Cape Coral boasts 400 miles of navigable waterways and more canals than any city in the world. It's popular for yachting and golf and has a booming healthcare industry.

Miami: A Diverse Job Market in a Big South Florida City

Miami skyline in the sunset

Image via Flickr by joiseyshowaa

Forbes gave Miami, Florida, the number four spot on its list of the top 10 cities and states for job growth in 2014. Job growth in the first three-quarters of 2014 was three percent for this South Florida city. While the Port of Miami makes this the "Cruise Capital of the World," Miami's major industries aren't exclusive to tourism. Miami is a major center of commerce and trade with several other big industries including media, financial services, and trade. The Civic Center supports research institutes, biotechnology, and medical industries.

As of October 2014, Miami's employment had increased 3.2 percent over the year, while national employment increased just two percent over the same period. The Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall division of the area, which employs 45 percent of Miami's workforce, added 37,800 jobs over this period.  The trade, transportation, and utilities subsector and professional and business services subsector each experienced 3.7 percent job growth, outperforming both job sectors nationally. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Miami had the third-largest nonfarm employment growth in the country as of October 2014, behind only Houston and Dallas.

Deltona: Big Construction Bringing in Jobs

Race cars at Daytona Motor Speedway

Image via Flickr by familymwr

Deltona's fast job growth makes it a top pick for job seekers in the Sunshine State. The city's unemployment rate is 6.1 percent, putting it just below the national average of 6.3 percent. Recent job growth is 3.28 percent, more than double the national average of 1.18 percent. Future job growth looks rosy as well, projected at 40.5 percent while national job growth is estimated at 36.1 percent in the future. Notably, the cost of living is 5.3 percent below the national average. The median household income here is $42,119, and the median home price is $116,500.

Deltona ranked third in the country for strong job growth in 2015. This is driven in large part by construction on the Daytona Speedway and the One Daytona shopping center. Education is a major industry in Deltona as well, thanks to the Deltona campus of Daytona State College. With more than 100 lakes, this area is a popular destination for water sports, both among locals and tourists.

Make the warm, sunny state of Florida your home, and you can cash in on the big growth that visitors and retirees are bringing to the state. With major construction underway across the state to bring more jobs south, you'll find many opportunities for exciting careers here. Check out these top cities for your future job opportunities.

Contributed to jobs.net by Kim Hale

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