New study shows SWFL employees may be underpaid

FORT MYERS, Fla. Workers in Southwest Florida make less than those with similar jobs in other places, according to a new study.

The average annual salary in the region is $40,189, compared to $45,562 for the rest of Florida and $52,876 for the country, statistics from the 2016 Southwest Florida Workforce Overview Study show.

The types of occupations available in Southwest Florida are partly to blame for the wage gap.

The most in-demand employees are those in retail, restaurants and construction, according to the study.

However, only construction pays over $20 an hour.

Still, employees in those industries flock to Southwest Florida.

FGCU economist Dr. Christopher Westley, one of the authors of the study, believes the data simply show our economy is growing on a familiar foundation: retirees and tourism.

The study also showed a shift in the types of jobs becoming available in Southwest Florida, particularly nursing.

Last year, nurses were in short supply, Westley said, but the labor market fixed the issue.

“Wages increased and that attracted more people in the area or caused more people to go into nursing,” he said.

So what does the emphasis on retail and restaurants mean for our future?

“We’re likely to have a recession,” Westley said. “Chances are we’re going to have one over the next few years,” adding that dependence on tourism and construction makes Southwest Florida vulnerable to larger fluctuations.

For more specific Southwest Florida salary data, consult

See the 2016 Southwest Florida Workforce Overview Study here:

Reporter:Chris Cifatte