Florida ranks first in U.S. for attracting and developing skilled workforce

Florida ranks first in the U.S. for attracting and developing a skilled workforce, according to Lightcast’s seventh-annual Talent Attraction Scorecard.

Florida ranked first overall in education attainment, jobs, skilled jobs, migration in 2020, competitive effect, and skilled job openings.

Gov. Ron DeSantis says Florida ranking first in the U.S. confirms his administration’s commitment to an open economy, and its emphasis on training and developing workers with the technical skills and credentials.

“By keeping Florida free and open, we have created a positive economic environment and invested in our state’s workforce and communities,” he said, while also leading the U.S. “in net migration and talent attraction.” He said while “other states continue to struggle at the hands of poor leadership, people and businesses are flocking to Florida.”

Lightcast says it created the report to help businesses find employees “with the talent and skills they need” and “to help communities understand how they were doing at attracting and developing talent to help meet this need.”

The report measures seven growth areas over the most recent five-year period analyzed, including net migration of counties adding new residents, education attainment, job creation, skilled job creation, competitive effect, and average annual job openings. This year, state rankings were added to the report. Historically, the ranking has evaluated three types of communities: Large Counties (100,000+ population), Small Counties (5,000–99,999 population), and Micro Counties (less than 5,000 population).

The rankings “also capture the first wave of pandemic migration, with IRS migration data from 2016–2020,” the report states.

According to the report, Florida ranked first among states with the 15 largest counties in the top 50 in talent attraction. Five Florida counties were in the top 20: Hillsborough County (#8), Polk (#10), Lee (#12), St Johns (#18), and Pasco (#20).

Florida also led all states in net migration, adding more than 388,000 residents between 2016-2020 – nearly double the net migration gains of Texas, which ranked second in the report.

Three Florida counties also saw the largest net migration out of the 10 large counties evaluated nationally: Lee, Pasco and Polk. Among the smallest U.S. counties, Nassau County ranked first for net migration, Walton County ranked fourth.

“Florida’s #1 ranking in talent attraction and net migration is proof that Governor DeSantis’ Freedom First policies work,” Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) Secretary Dane Eagle said. “Businesses and families move to Florida because they know our state is the best place to grow. The state’s unemployment rate remains low, while private sector employment and job growth continue to soar.”

The DEO is working with Enterprise Florida and other state partners, he added, to grow and strengthen the state’s workforce, including making “strategic investments to meet the workforce demands of Florida businesses and keep the state’s economy strong.”

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