By Cecil G. Brumley
Now that the last jobs numbers of 2012 are in, it's clear the song we can sing is "where did all the accountants go."
Generally employment improved in 2012, although by a miniscule amount in Volusia County. According to the state labor department's December estimates, compared to December 2011, manufacturing jobs were up 100, retail jobs were up 300, leisure and hospitality jobs were up 200, and government jobs were up 100. But all of that pales in comparison to professional and business services where the number of jobs was down 1,600, according to a survey of employers.
Professional services include accountants, lawyers and business managers, and apparently there were a lot fewer jobs in those areas than in 2011. The engineers, information technology and public relations folks all held steady, so where did those top level jobs go? Accountants, lawyers, business managers, I'm looking for some input here -- please advise.
On the plus side, with a smaller labor force and more people working, the department's household survey shows the unemployment rate in Volusia was at 8.1 percent, down from 8.3 percent in November and 10 percent in December 2011.
Commercial construction is starting off the new year with a bang with projects underway throughout Volusia County. A new Firestone retail store and auto care center is beginning at The Pavilion at Port Orange. Chase Bank has its new office underway at 725 Third Ave. in New Smyrna Beach. Construction is beginning on a Dollar General store at Stratford Commons in Deltona. Remodeling of existing businesses and for new businesses also is going strong. Publix is remodeling several stores, including the one at Indian River shopping center in New Smyrna Beach. Following on the heels of another failed Tijuana Flats, a new restaurant called Sushi 99 is going into the Shoppes at Yorktowne in Port Orange.
Commercial real estate also continues to do well. Some of the recent deals include some healthcare professionals buying Golden Abbey nursing home in Ormond Beach for $4.475 million. Investors led by developer Buddy LaCour bought the land where the Ormond Beach hospital once stood for $2 million. Canadian investors bought the Motel 6 across from Destination Daytona for $1.7 million. Atlantic Housing Partners bought the land to develop the Fountains at Saxon Pointe (a mix of commercial and multi-family housing) for $1.5 million. McDonald's paid Walmart $585,000 for its franchisee's new fast-food joint on Howland Boulevard near State Road 415.
All of the commercial activity is following on the heels of improvement in the housing market, including sales of existing houses that went up sharply in 2012. Next week,I hope to have the latest numbers on home building in Volusia County.
Associate Managing Editor Cecil G. Brumley has been tracking business in Volusia County for 16 years. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him at https://twitter.com/CecilBrumley.