Local economy ‘firing on all cylinders’

Peter Tesch’s job is to make sure there are jobs in St. Lucie County. He’s the president of the St. Lucie County Economic Development Council. These days he’s spending a lot of time trying to make sure employers can get workers.

“Our local and regional economy is firing on all cylinders,” he said, adding “if you look at all the major industry sectors, they’re all expanding.”

The EDC, as it’s called in shorthand, is aiming to get more local youths interested in manufacturing.

“On June 11, we’re having our first manufacturing boot camp for graduating seniors,” he said.

The “boot camp” is co-hosted the Treasure Coast Manufacturers Association and CareerSource Research Coast, Tesch said, and will have 20 recent graduates training for 18 months with classwork and apprenticeship portions.

“They’re going to be fully immersed in a manufacturing-industry orientation,” he explained.

Because manufacturing jobs are available. St. Lucie and Martin counties have had about 100 added from April 2017 to this April.

“Many of the employers will perhaps be offering those graduates job opportunities,” Tesch said.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity released its monthly jobs report for April on Friday, May 18. It reports that the not-seasonally-adjusted employment rate in St. Lucie was 4.1 percent that month. That was down from 4.6 percent in March, and 4.7 percent the previous April.

At the same time, surrounding counties were showing strong jobs numbers. Martin took the top spot with 3.3 percent not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment. Indian River was at 4 percent. The state ran a not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate of 3.4 percent in April, while the nation was at 3.7.

St. Lucie has a growing labor force as it has strengthening employment rates. “We’re starting to see more people coming back into the labor force,” Tesch said.

“Either moving back into the labor force, or moving into St. Lucie County.”

In April 2017 there were about 137,700 workers in St. Lucie’s labor force. That swelled to about 139,000 this April. While there’s no tracking for local labor force participation rates – the number of potentially available workers who are employed or looking for employment – nationally it was 62.8 percent in April.

Nationally, labor force participation is still down from where it was a decade ago at the beginning of the Great Recession and slow recovery, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The national labor force participation rate in April 2008 was 65.9 percent. That month’s labor force participation rate dipped below 63 percent in 2014 and has been, on average, 62.8 every April percent since.

In other words, nationally there are seemingly still people who’ve not returned to work despite growing employer demand.

Keeping the talent pipeline within companies going will be among the things covered at the EDC’s upcoming “Leading the New Breed Symposium,” on Wednesday, June 13, from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa, 3793 NE Ocean Boulevard, Jensen Beach.

The keynote speaker will be Phillip Van Hooser, author of “Leaders Ought to Know: 11 Ground Rules for Common Sense Leadership.” He will talk from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on “Motivating Managers, Millennials and Misfits.”


More about the symposium is at www.youredc.com. The complete state employment report is at www.floridajobs.org.

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