Tech Booms Amid Dismal Florida Unemployment Numbers

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Top 10 Metro Markets for Tech Employment

Dice.com has identified the top tech job markets.

As a backdrop for the Florida primary, CNNMoney.com has a big piece declaring Florida the worst state in which to lose your job. It says the Sunshine State has the highest rate of long-term unemployment in the nation.


But that's not necessarily talking about tech. As Deborah Vazquez, CEO of Boca Raton, Fla., IT staffing firm Protech, put it, "It depends on what kind of job you're losing." She described a hot tech job market in south Florida when I interviewed her last August. At that time, job site Dice.com listed Tampa, Miami and Jacksonville among the cities with the strongest job growth and in a November report, Jacksonville was ranked No. 6.


I called her again Tuesday and she reported demand remains strong. She said that since we had spoken last, the heavy preference for contractors or contract-to-hire placements had stabilized somewhat with permanent hires, though about 60 percent of the positions remain contract or contract-to-hire.


"That just tells you that companies are more confident in allocating the budget," she said.


Vazquez also noted that in August little was happening in demand for IT management jobs. Now manager- and director-level positions are coming back, though still not so much in the VP to C-levels yet. "There's definitely some activity in the lower-level manager to director positions," she said.


Other than that, there's strong demand for specialized skills such as Informatica and development in Java and .NET. And in the past 30 days, she said, demand has picked up for positions in development of the presentation layer or UI development. "It appears that websites are being rehauled or new sites will be coming online," she said. Overall, she described the recruiting situation as "challenging."


When the Tampa Bay Technology Forum polled more than 100 local technology companies, it found 700 jobs available in 2012, reports myfoxtampabay.com. It, too, describes the hiring challenge that represents.


It quotes the Forum's CEO, Heather Kenyon, as saying:

We are not known as a technology powerhouse. We have to take all of the companies we have here and scrape them together and make a great noise.

The Tampa Bay Business Journal points to a Dice survey putting the average IT salary in Tampa at $72,802, certainly not the six-figure average of Silicon Valley, but not the dire picture that the CNNMoney article paints, either. The myfoxtampabay article, however, refers to the Tampa "Brain Drain." It quotes Kaushal Chari, professor of information systems and decision sciences at the University of South Florida, saying that graduates with deep technological skills tend to move to cities such as Atlanta and Charlotte, where there are more tech opportunities with higher salaries.


And it mentions a push by Dave Hansen, CEO of Numara Software, to create an innovation center in Tampa, where people working in technology can network, exchange ideas and build new companies. Said Hansen:

I think it's achievable here because everyone I talk to has the same goals.