Last spring, the office of Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced that a global endurance sports brand, IRONMAN Triathlon, based in Tampa, was ready to grow and get bigger.
The governor and Andrew Messick, president and chief executive officer of IRONMAN, announced that the firm was expanding its Tampa headquarters, creating 70 new jobs in the process. That’s in addition to the 160 Floridians currently employed by IRONMAN. The new positions are expected to include jobs in sales, marketing, human resources, operations, finance and information technology.
As Messick noted, “We have found a great home here in Tampa over the last 10 years. We are proud of the growth IRONMAN has seen in our time here and we are enthusiastic about collaborating with local partners to continue that growth while showcasing the backdrop and amenities the Tampa Bay area has provided to us and our employees.”
Another major selling point, Messick noted, is that Tampa has an airport accessible for national and international flights, the ideal location for a global headquarters.
As it turns out, IRONMAN isn’t alone in recognizing that. Tampa has become a hyper-charged economic engine in recent years, and those announcements about new jobs coming to the city just keep multiplying.
Tampa started 2018 on a real economic high, just as the city did in 2016 and 2017. In fact, the Tampa area added 31,900 new private-sector jobs in 2017, the second-highest number of jobs among all Florida metro areas, and so far this year, the Tampa Bay area has added another 30,000 jobs.
In August, Tampa’s unemployment rate was 3.6 percent, lower than the national average of 3.9 percent and the Florida average of 3.7 percent.
That’s a very strong economic performance. The Tampa Bay economy is creating new jobs, but existing companies are finding increased opportunity here, and it’s a sign of their health that so many are expanding.
That growth is helping to fuel strength in the housing market as well, which has experienced a very strong year so far in 2018. The real estate website Zillow notes that the median home value in Tampa is $211,600, and Tampa home values have gone up 9.8% over the past year. The median price of homes currently for sale in Tampa is $309,150.
Now, as 2018 winds down, both the Tampa economy and its housing market have matched the expectations of the strongest optimists.
Why is Tampa Bay’s economy so strong?
First, it helps to be in a state with one of the strongest economies in the nation. Florida businesses created thousands of new jobs this year, with the Sunshine State’s unemployment rate falling to 3.7 percent. The state has done particularly well in creating jobs within fields like professional and business services, construction, and leisure and hospitality.
The bottom line is that as Florida’s economy keeps growing, labor market conditions all point to the likelihood of even more jobs being added each month.
Tampa Bay is riding the wave as well. The industries with the highest growth in Tampa over the past year have been professional and business services; education and health services; and leisure and hospitality with 6,700 new jobs.
More importantly, there are still plenty of jobs to be found in Tampa today. The Tampa area remained among the top metro areas when it came to job demand in August.
More importantly, Tampa ranks first in the state when it comes to demand for high-skill, high-wage STEM positions.
What’s fueling the strength in Florida in general, and Tampa in particular? As it turns out, a lot of it comes back to housing.
How Does the Housing Market Boost the Economy?
A forecast from University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith indicates that Florida’s economy will grow faster than the national economy through 2019, fueled in part by a growing population. The newcomers moving here, Snaith predicted, would propel an increase in construction jobs.
In other words, growth has become a major industry in the Sunshine State. As more and more people relocate to Florida, either to take advantage of the tropical year-round weather or to seek out better job opportunities, the state’s economy will keep growing as builders ramp up construction of new homes.
That creates jobs not just for construction workers, but a host of other fields related to home construction, including real estate, landscaping, interior design, building supplies, home furnishings, banking, marketing, and many others.
Snaith noted in the Florida & Metro Forecast, 2016-2019, that strong job growth would help boost population trends in Florida, and the state’s economy would expand at an average rate of 2.9 percent a year through 2019, outpacing projections for the national economy.
Housing starts are expected to increase to nearly 151,000 in 2019.
In the meantime, the median sales price in the Tampa Bay area is $223,000, according to the real estate site Trulia, which is very affordable price compared to other metros like San Francisco and New York City.
Today, those prices are helping to fuel great strength in Tampa Bay’s housing market, along with the contributions being made by builders like Domain Homes to put new homes on the market.
Since the Tampa Bay housing market hit bottom in 2011, with prices falling sharply, prices have been rebounding since 2013. In 2017, sales actually slowed during the summer, but it had nothing to do with a lack of interest among buyers. Instead, the challenge was that not enough homes were on the market to match buyer demand.
And some neighborhoods have been transformed along the way. A good example is south Hillsborough County. When the housing market crashed in 2008, this area suffered heavily. But today, south Hillsborough is home to a massive new Amazon distribution center. There are two new Publix supermarkets in the neighborhood, and the roads are being improved there.
Another new trend: more millennials who had been renters are opting to buy instead. Those are all healthy, positive trends for the Bay Area’s housing market and the strong economic conditions are making those trends grow even stronger.
Tampa Bay has a winning combination right now: a strong economy creating new jobs, including in professional fields like healthcare and life sciences; more commercial development in downtown Tampa that’s transforming older, run down commercial sectors into brand-new, job-creating business developments; and a housing market where the housing stock is far more affordable than in other coastal metros.
No wonder the local population keeps expanding and more people keep moving here looking for work, and the opportunity to enjoy all that Tampa Bay has to offer.
Those newcomers will be in need of someplace to live, and it helps that builders like Domain Homes are constructing new houses here.
Domain Homes procures older, dilapidated houses in some of the city’s most appealing neighborhoods, and replaces them with brand new, move-in ready homes.
The neighborhoods that Domain Homes builds in include highly sought-after, established neighborhoods like South Tampa, West Tampa, North Hyde Park, the Heights, and St. Petersburg. These locations are close to the top-rated school districts, the downtown cultural amenities and shopping, and to the job centers.