Is Job Creation Fueling Another Banner Run for Home Sales?


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, January 22nd, 2016 – Sarasota-Manatee home sales volume in 2015 appears headed towards exceeding its previous historic high of 19,389 properties sold in 2014, but the party looks not over yet. Recently released data indicate that there’s enough gas from the labor sector to help sustain the residential property market’s banner run onwards to 2016.

Reflecting robust gains in the national level, the combined unemployment rate in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties dropped nearly a full percentage point to 4.6 percent in November from a year earlier. Figures from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity also showed that Sarasota had the lowest jobless rate for the month at 4.5 percent, trailed by Manatee with 4.6 percent and Charlotte with 5.3 percent.

U.S. Growth Is Solid

Is Job Creation Fueling Another Banner Run for Home Sales?

These local figures compare with the flat 5 percent national unemployment rate that the Department of Labor recorded from October to December. The government agency also reported that U.S. employers added a hefty 292,000 jobs for the month and that jobs created in October and November were 50,000 more than it had previously estimated. All told, U.S. employers added 2.65 million jobs in 2015, averaging 221,000 monthly. This total, after 2014, was the second-best year for hiring since 1999.

The strong hiring that is taming the jobless rate more than suggests tailwinds for Sarasota homes for sale and elsewhere in the region. As important, it likewise indicates that the U.S. economic growth is solid and showing resilience amid global weakness due to China’s economic slowdown and plummeting stock market. Even as many economists expect only modest U.S. growth, most of them believe that domestic consumer spending will continue to offset weakness in markets overseas. As per one estimate, international trade only accounts for approximately 30 percent of U.S. economic activity, amongst the lowest worldwide.

What Lies Ahead?

Some forward-looking data indicate that the uptick in hiring in recent months will remain well into 2016. Polling close to 600 recruiters and hiring managers, job board operator DHI Group Inc. found out that 61 percent of them plan to hire more during the first months of the year compared to the last half of 2015. Similar uptrends have been observed in separate surveys of Dice and Manpower Group.

On the state level, 2016 payroll growth in Florida has been forecast as “robust” by University of Central Florida’s chief economist Sean Snaith. Expecting payroll to grow 3.2 percent in 2015, Snaith predicted continuing gains of 2.2 percent in 2016, 2 percent in 2017, and 1.5 percent in 2018. He also projected that Florida’s labor force growth will average 1.7 percent from 2015 to 2018, with a higher employment growth of 2.2 percent yearly in the Southwest Florida area.

The Dynamics at Play

The dynamics of a resurgent housing market itself looms as a major contributor in the improving employment picture in the region. Migration to the area is forecast to grow at a minimum of 3 percent annually over the next several years, and tourism is also having a record run recently. Both trends provide a strong stimulus to new construction of Sarasota homes for sale that in turn is having a profound impact on the job market.

Within the Downtown Sarasota Community Redevelopment Area alone, there are 34 projects either in the pipeline or already under construction as of December 2015. The projects are not only residential—townhouses, condominiums and rental apartments—but also include hotels, commercial space, office space, parking garages, and more roundabouts.

As yet another indicator, North Venice-based PGT Industries, a leading U.S. manufacturer and supplier of impact-resistant residential windows and doors, was reported filling 100 job openings in early 2016. Touted as the largest employer in Sarasota County, this stock-listed company already employs a staff of 1,800 and has recently acquired Orlando-based manufacturer Window. PGT also recently reported 2015 sales of over $370 million, a historic high which likewise mirrors the region’s banner home sales run.