Lakeland, FL – January 2024 Jobs Report – Steady Growth Despite National Dip

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The Lakeland-Winter Haven Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) added 1,600 jobs in December 2023 compared to the same month last year, reflecting a modest 0.6% growth rate. This surpasses the state’s overall growth of 0.5%. Although January 2024 data is currently unavailable, December’s figures provide valuable insights into Lakeland’s recent job market trends.


  • Leisure and Hospitality: This sector witnessed the strongest annual growth at 6.0%, adding 1,600 new jobs – the highest rate among all Florida metro areas.
  • Education and Health Services: Expanding by 5.8%, this industry generated 2,300 new positions, indicating a robust healthcare and education market.
  • Other Services: This category saw a 2.8% increase, contributing 200 new jobs to the local economy.
  • Unemployment Rate: Polk County, where Lakeland is located, held a 3.8% unemployment rate in December 2023, slightly higher than the state average of 2.9%.

Industry and Occupation Growth:

  • Growing Industries: Leisure and Hospitality, Education and Health Services, Trade, Transportation, and Utilities, Manufacturing, and Other Services.
  • Growing Occupations: Registered Nurses, Customer Service Representatives, Software Developers, Truck Drivers, Sales Representatives, Elementary School Teachers, Janitors, Nursing Assistants, Retail Salespersons, and Chefs (Source: CareerSource Polk).

Industry and Occupation Shrinkage:

No significant industry or occupation shrinkage was reported in December 2023.

Comparison to Same Month Last Year:

  • Lakeland-Winter Haven MSA’s job growth (0.6%) outpaced the state’s average (0.5%).
  • Leisure and Hospitality experienced the fastest annual growth in the MSA compared to all Florida metro areas.

Comparison to Previous Month:

Since January 2024 data is unavailable, a direct month-to-month comparison isn’t possible. However, December 2023 saw a slight increase (+1.6%) compared to November 2023.

Future Outlook:

While January data is pending, Lakeland’s December 2023 figures indicate continued job growth, particularly in sectors like Leisure and Hospitality, Education and Health Services, and Other Services. However, national economic headwinds could impact future trends.

10 Growing Occupations in Lakeland:

  1. Registered Nurses
  2. Customer Service Representatives
  3. Software Developers
  4. Truck Drivers
  5. Sales Representatives
  6. Elementary School Teachers
  7. Janitors
  8. Nursing Assistants
  9. Retail Salespersons
  10. Chefs

10 Companies Hiring Now in Lakeland:

  1. Publix Super Markets
  2. Watson Clinic
  3. AdventHealth
  4. Polk County Public Schools
  5. LEGOLAND Florida Resort
  6. Southeastern University
  7. Rooms To Go
  8. Lowe’s Home Improvement
  9. Walmart
  10. Amazon