Orlando making progress in adding higher paying jobs

Orlando has spent the past two years bulking up on higher skilled and paying jobs, especially in the areas of medicine, computer science and accounting.

That's the conclusion of reports from the state's Department of Economic Activity, which shows that while certain jobs remain very strong—most notably leisure and hospitality--the area has also been adding so-called STEM jobs, which stand for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.


Brookings Institution study from June 2013, argued that STEM jobs go beyond the usual definition to include avocations like manufacturing, health care, construction and maintenance, and Orlando has been adding jobs in these areas as well.

The additions imply the area is seeing progress with its efforts to increase the number of higher wage residents as a way of creating a more varied business mix and injecting more spending into the local economy.


Still, just under one-quarter of the 1.1 million employed in the Orlando area work at its theme parks and hotels, which comprise a high percentage of low wage positions.

"You want higher paying jobs as a way of diversifying. If tourism takes a hit, medical will likely keep chugging along," said Mekael Teshome, economist at PNC Bank.

Starting from the top, the area added 25 chief executives between the first quarter of 2014 and 2015. The ranks grew by 22 the year before.

Medical jobs are some of the area's fastest growing. Doctors, nurses and even medical equipment repairers saw some of the highest year-over-year growth in both numbers and percentages from the first quarter of 2014 to the first quarter 2015, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The number of registered nurses grew by 665, or 3.32 percent from the prior period. The year before, the number of registered nurses grew by 636, or 3.22 percent.

Companies seeking IT set-up services and on-site support have driven computer science and software job growth.
Employment in the computer user support specialties grew by 107, or 1.92 percent, compared to 101, or 1.96 percent in the prior year. In all, over 400 jobs were added in the computer field in both years.

Accountants are coming to Orlando at a rapid clip, with 204 joining the employment ranks from the first quarter of 2014 to the first quarter of 2015. The year before, 246 joined Orlando's employment ranks.

The construction field, which is still experiencing trouble getting laborers, has been adding higher paying jobs, like 136 construction managers during the first quarter of 2014 to the first quarter of 2015, and 174 electricians.

Demographic data show that with the addition of higher paying jobs, home prices are also rising.


The average home sale price in the Orlando area as of the end of May was $218,852, up from $214,443 a year ago, according to the Orlando Regional Realtor Association.

The five priciest areas in Orange County, which would seem a draw to at least some of the area's top wage earners, are Baldwin Park, where homes average $506,813; Winter Park, at $503,159; Windermere, at $465,252; Dr. Phillips/Bay Vista, for $458,254; and $373,700 for Maitland/Eatonville.