SWFL head hunters talk hiring amid red tide & current housing market

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Dead fish has been a regular sight in Southwest Florida, and when you add that with expensive housing, job seekers and head hunters say it’s not helping to bring workers to area.

Ilan Woll is soon moving to Fort Myers from Connecticut. He says he is looking forward to getting away from temperatures in the 30’s and jumping into a cheaper housing market.

“My company has been expanding in Fort Myers and asked me to move,” he said. “I’m definitely going to leave my shovel here in Connecticut.”

While his job initiated the move, he says there are perks to relocating to the Sunshine State.

“Food seems to be less , the no state income tax will be positive,” he said.

He will join a hot job market as Lee County currently sits at 2.5 percent unemployment which is well below the state’s jobless rate.

“If someone wants a job in Southwest Florida, they probably have it,” said Shelton Weeks, who is the Department Chair of Economics and Finance at Florida Gulf Coast University.

But Weeks said housing for these new hires can be a problem.

“Housing is starting to get a little high in Charlotte and Lee counties, and it’s already out of reach for many in Collier County,” he said. “The issue with affordability is that wages haven’t kept pace with the price of housing.”

But for Ilan, he says his salary is high enough for him to buy into Lee County’s housing market.

The one thing that nearly kept him away, however, was the red tide.

“When flew down there for a meeting in August,  I could smell the dead fish in the air,” Woll said.

Professor Weeks agrees that our water quality crisis could be a turn off for possible new hires.

“When the come and visit and they’re unable to go to the beach or they go to the beach and they have a negative experience — that’s going to have a negative impact on them moving to Southwest Florida,” he said.

The medium home prices listed for September are as follows:

  • Collier County: $400,000
  • Lee County: $245,000
  • Charlotte County:  $200,000

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