Aug 4, 2023 - Business

Florida, Tampa Bay see manufacturing job boom

States with the most manufacturing jobs added since January 2021
Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

Florida added the third-highest number of manufacturing jobs in the country since 2021, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By the numbers: Florida added about 37,000 manufacturing jobs between January 2021 and May 2023, an increase of about 10%. California and Texas were the top two with increases of about 79,000 and 86,000 jobs, respectively.

Why it matters: The growth is part of a manufacturing boom across the South and Mountain West for which President Biden has sought credit in his re-election campaign, Axios Sneak Peek's Hans Nichols reports.

Yes, but: Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for the Republican nomination to challenge Biden, has also taken credit for the employment growth, touting the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund as a main driver.

Zoom in: The Tampa metropolitan area has seen its own boom, according to data and industry experts who spoke with Axios.

  • Manufacturing jobs grew by 10% locally in the last five years, per data from the 2022 Chmura JobsEQ report provided by the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council (EDC). The area added more than 200 manufacturing businesses between 2017 and 2021.
  • The Tampa Bay area's 74,000 total manufacturing jobs make up about a fifth of the state's manufacturing workforce.
  • Among the products coming out of Tampa Bay are electronics, metal fabrications, aerospace parts, contact lenses, yachts and Coca-Cola products, said Craig Richard, president and CEO of the EDC.

State of play: Tampa's location is one of its biggest assets, experts told Axios. It's home to the largest deep-water sea port in Florida and is close to the Interstate 4 corridor, which has a lot of warehouse space, said Beth Galic, executive director of the Bay Area Manufacturers Association.

  • The area also has a number of education and training programs that generate a workforce "that our manufacturers are in desperate need of," Galic said.
  • That includes welding programs at Erwin Technical College, Hillsborough Community College and Pinellas Technical College - Clearwater Campus and several engineering degree programs at the University of South Florida. Many high schools also offer trade programs and certificate programs.

Plus: Economic development professionals like to recruit manufacturing jobs, Richard said, because with each job may come six or seven more; sourcing raw material, transporting supplies and working within a facility all offer opportunities for employment. It's "kind of like the backbone of the economy," he said.

  • And the jobs pay well, Galic said, pointing to JobsEQ data that puts the average salary for a Tampa Bay area manufacturing job at just over $73,000. The national average was about $80,000.

What they're saying: The Tampa Bay area is "finally getting noticed for having the ability to support manufacturing on a large scale," Richard said.

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