Market Commentaries are a series of timely analyses produced by the Orlando Economic Partnership’s Market Intelligence team. Commentaries are typically associated with a major data release or cover areas key to advancing the Partnership’s goal of Broad-based Prosperity®.

Revised estimates suggest the Orlando region added close to 77,000 jobs in 2022.
These gains reestablish the region as one of the country’s leading regional job creators and should help bring greater clarity to future labor market performance.
The region must continue to absorb new residents in an intentional way that advances broad-based prosperity, even in today’s uncertain economic environment.

Each year, state and federal agencies revise labor market statistics based on additional information unavailable at the time of original release. In March, this process culminated in updated estimates suggesting Orlando added 77,000 jobs in 2022 – higher than originally thought and enough to reclaim the region’s previous role as one of the nation’s top job creators.

Outperforming Recent History

Orlando averaged 36,000 new jobs in the years between the end of the last recession (2009) and the onset of the pandemic (2020). By any measure, then, the 77,000 new jobs added in 2022 represents a strong performance – even if a small percentage of those jobs may be attributed to companies continuing to rebuild capacity in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Employment gains in 2022 were broad-based, with all local sectors adding jobs. Leisure & hospitality was a significant contributor as tourism rebounded.

Back to the Future

The four-county Orlando region is the 23rd most populous metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the United States and one of just 38 regions with at least 1 million jobs. Any credible assessment of Orlando’s job growth compares its performance with these peers – the regions against whom it competes daily for new jobs and investment.

Among this group, Orlando was the second fastest growing region in the U.S. in 2022 but added more jobs in absolute terms than the fastest-growing, Austin. Orlando was also the fastest growing in Florida.

In many ways, this performance heralds a welcome return for Orlando, having led major U.S. MSAs in job growth in both 2015 and 2016.

A Less Confusing Future

As of February 2023, just two private sectors in Orlando (construction and other services) have yet to return to their pre-pandemic levels of employment. This should help bring greater clarity to future labor market performance by erasing lingering concerns around how much of our current job growth is being driven by companies replacing positions lost during the pandemic. Leisure & hospitality was the latest to surpass that milestone, in February.

Looking Ahead

Orlando’s strong job growth in 2022 mirrors what the Partnership is hearing directly from local businesses. A majority of Partnership investors surveyed in the first quarter of this year report increasing employment in the last six months, with expectations for the next six months also generally positive despite ongoing concerns about a national economic downturn.

Whether these local projections are met may ultimately depend on the fortunes of the national economy in 2023. For now, though, we can and should celebrate our success in generating opportunity for our growing population.

The Orlando region welcomed 65,000 new residents between July 2021 and July 2022, according to the latest round of population estimates released by the Census Bureau in March. Making sure these new arrivals (and indeed everyone else) participate and share equally in the growth of our region should be a priority for all of us.