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Shrinking job pool could impact Orlando's economic health

With Orlando's work force shrinking, it could become more difficult to obtain highly skilled employees like those here, programing computer logic boards at Orion Technologies.
With Orlando's work force shrinking, it could become more difficult to obtain highly skilled employees like those here, programing computer logic boards at Orion Technologies. (Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel)

The Orlando area in September continued to outpace all other parts of the state in job growth by adding 41,400 positions on a year-over-year basis. But the number came with a caveat: the area's job market is significantly shrinking.

The Orlando region has lost nearly 23,000 jobs since February, the month employment hit its all time high of 1.23 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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The trend is being seen in other parts of the country and one reason that is cited is the aging of America, with Baby Boomers retiring at greater rates than expected.

The Urban Institute, in its own report, says workers aren't entering the labor force at the same rates as they used to. Students are staying in school longer and women are becoming more inclined to stay home with their children, the report states.

Some people just don't want to work, even though they are in the prime years of employment, and some, discouraged by the unemployment they experienced during the recession, don't want to make their way back to the job pool.

One thing that a shrinking workforce does is lower the unemployment rate because people are exiting the job market and no longer counted as unemployed.

For September, the Orlando area's unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent from 5.2 percent in August. The area consists of Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake and Sumter counties.

A shrinking labor pool can have ramifications not just for Orlando, but the area would feel it acutely because of efforts to become a state-of-the art center for science and medicine.

More limited availability of workers and the cost of their labor would make it more expensive to operate a business. Plus, desired skills may not be available.

"If the labor force shrinks it hurts your economic potential," said Mekael Teshome, economist at PNC Bank, who has been tracking the workforce decline in and around Orlando.

Teshome says it is too soon to tell if the area will be hard hit by the situation or if it will level off.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at ktalley@growthspotter.com or (407) 420-5176. Follow GrowthSpotter on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

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