Whether you currently work in IT, or you’re thinking about switching into it, now is a great time to do so, especially if you live in South Florida. IT and tech workers are seeing their industries grow in this area, and wages are also on the rise. As this is not the case everywhere in the country, it’s a great time to live here if you work in this industry, or to move here if you have these skills. But what’s led to this improvement in the tech industry, and can we expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future?
The unemployment rate is dropping
One of the primary reasons the tech industry is doing do well in South Florida is because the economy as a whole is doing better. On average over the year, the tri-county area of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade increased the number of jobs by 3 percent, or roughly 80,000 jobs.
In addition, the number of people without jobs is declining. Back in March the unemployment rate was at 4.8 percent, but it dropped to 4.5 percent in May. Now you not only have a larger number of job openings, but you have less people applying for them (since they already have jobs). This is great for workers, as there are more opportunities available out there for you, and you face less competition.
Wages are increasing as a result
Whenever there is a tighter labor market – more jobs and less unemployed – this is typically followed by an increase in wages. Employers must offer more in order to stay competitive, knowing their employees or candidates have other options out there. South Florida is seeing this effect, with wages having increased 3.9 percent, the highest of any metropolitan region, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in their annual report released this past August. This means that for workers living in this area, you may start seeing more money in your pockets at the end of each month.
What makes South Florida special at the moment is that the wage growth trend has not translated to the nation as a whole yet. While the economy has been improving for the past several years, the wage growth trend that typically follows has not really arrived yet. There has been a small uptick in wage growth nationwide, with a 2.4 percent increase over the year, but it has not been enough for people to feel it in their bank accounts just yet. Some areas are doing better than others, and South Florida is one of those areas.
Using the wage growth to your benefit
So how can you turn the positive wage growth numbers to your advantage? For starters, you could look for another job. IT skills are always in demand, so you can take this opportunity to find a job that is willing to pay you more. With the unemployment rate dropping, and the need for special training in order to do most IT and tech jobs, you likely won’t face much competition, meaning companies will have to pay more to attract you in, or offer some form of a better compensation package.
In an article by the Sun Sentinel, a market manager for a major staffing agency located in South Florida said “Now, to hire good people, you’re going to have to compensate them differently” and added “Where an administrative professional got paid $12 an hour three years ago, now it’s $14 an hour. We’re seeing those kinds of lifts.”
Not everyone wants to change their jobs however. If you like your current job, you could always ask for a raise. Talk with your manager about your work performance, and why you believe you are worth more. Employers are likely aware of the shrinking talent pool, and will want to keep you on board if you are providing quality work.
Try to avoid threatening your manager with the prospect of you leaving for another position, as this could create some ill will if you decide to stay. We all know living in South Florida isn’t cheap, so be honest with your company about why you deserve more, and in this economy, you just might get it.
Interested in getting your career started in IT or tech?
Finally, for those of you out there who are looking to get an IT or tech job, you may be seeing this good economic news as a sign that now is the right time. Before you jump in, take some time to think about what sort of tech job you would like to do. Do you want to write computer code? Help people with their devices? Design websites? And what sort of company do you want to work for? By asking yourself these questions, you can narrow down what type of work you’d like to do, and then get started on that career path.
You’ll likely need some training in order to get the tech job you’re after, so you should look into this first. After you have all of the required training and education necessary, you can begin finding a job either on your own, or by working with a staffing agency. A staffing agency will help you to find open job positions that match your skill set, and the work you desire.
No matter what stage of your IT or technology career you are in, consider yourself lucky to be living in South Florida. While the rest of the nation has not experienced significant wage growth or a tighter labor market yet, this is not the case for South Florida, so you might as well take advantage of it. Either take this opportunity to start your career on a strong footing, or use the positive economic news to better your current situation. While the current trends for IT and tech jobs in South Florida look good, the economy can always change, so you want to seize this opportunity while you can.