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Tuesday, September 15th 2015 9:43 am

Cape Coral-Fort Myers among top in employment outlook

The Cape Coral-Fort MyersMetropolitan Statistical Areahas the fifth best employment outlook in the nation, according to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, which asked employers their hiring plans for the fourth quarter.

Among employers surveyed for the Cape Coral-Fort Myers MSA, 25 percent plan to hire more employees from October through December. None reported planning to reduce payrolls, while 74 percent expect to maintain staff levels and 1 percent indicated they are unsure of their hiring plans. Thats a 25 percent net employment outlook, compared to a 23 percent outlook going into the fourth quarter a year ago. The outlook was 17 percent going into this years third quarter.

Christopher Westley, a professor of economists who directs FGCUs Regional EconomicResearch Institute, found the Manpower results extremely interesting.

This has been a busier summer than previous summers, and it really suggests that the local economy is gearing up for a very busy season, he said. Its another indication, at least for now, that the region is turning the corner from recovering from the recession to getting into real growth.

The Regional Economic Research Institute provides reports on economic indicators forSouthwest Florida. The Manpower survey supports the institutes recent findings, Westley said, which include surveys of the Lee County business community.

The fact that this is coming from the Manpower survey, thats big time, he said.

Jim Wall, spokesman for CareerSource Southwest Florida, viewed the survey news with optimism and a dash of caution because he has seen boom times turn to bust.

This is all a good sign, but for those of us who have been down here a while, there seems to be some kind of cautionary note, he said. This is showing strong confidence that our economy will continue to grow.

Wages in Southwest Florida, Wall said, are a key component of the economy to keep an eye on.

Wages are still lagging, and I think we will see an increase in wages yet this year or by the first quarter of next year, or I start to see some real issues with workforce housing, which is different than affordable housing, he said.

One employer that continues to hire heading into the fourth quarter isAlta Resources, which will have a job fair Saturdayat its office at 12451 Gateway Blvd., in the Gateway area of Lee County.Job seekers are asked to complete applications in advance at JoinAlta.com.

Seasonal full- and part-time openings are in customer care and inbound sales to serve healthinsurance clients that have expanding needs to support theAffordable Care Acts annual enrollment period. More than 250 people were hired during an Alta job fair in July, but the company needs more people. Folks with bilingual English/Spanish skills are particularly needed.

Brian Holly, managing director of Holiday InnFort Myers Airportat Town Center, said the hotel is somewhat unique in maintaining its staffing through the summer months.There is not much turnover at the hotel, which employs 60, but Holly expects at least a few people will be hired in the fourth quarter.

Miguel Gonzalez, left, of the U.S. Small Business Administration,

Miguel Gonzalez, left, of theU.S. Small Business Administration, talks to small business owners during a seminar at the Florida Small Business Development Center Access toCapitolevent at the Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport at Town Center.(Photo: The News-Press file photo)

The hospitality sector is just really firing on all cylinders this year, he said. People are more bullish in hiring now. Were looking at a really gangbuster season for 2016.

So which MSAs beat out Cape Coral-Fort Myers in net employment outlook? Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater MSA was just ahead, at 26 percent. The top three: theMcAllen, Texas, at 34 percent; andGreenville, S.C., andStockton, Calif., both at 27 percent.

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