When examining the numbers for 2019 there are some real positives and some challenges.
Hotel/motel and restaurant receipt numbers through the first 11 months are strong with restaurant numbers up more than 4% and hotels up more than 5%. Average county wages for Cape County continue to climb and currently stand at $40,625. Population for Cape and Jackson continues to increase with Cape experiencing an addition of more than 1,900 people since 2010 for a 5% increase and Jackson growing by more than 1,200 people for a 9% increase. Cape County labor force stand at 41,698 with 40,741 of those currently employed. That means our current unemployment rate stands at 2.3%. And the number of people in the county with an Associate’s degree or higher has climbed to 36%.
The Chamber had strong numbers as well adding 90 new members and 254 new representatives. We hosted 50 ribbon cuttings and our online directory had more than 7,000 views. In addition, more than 5,000 people joined us for Chamber events and meetings.
So where are the challenges? One big one is hidden in the numbers we just reviewed. With unemployment running at record lows, workforce is still an issue for our businesses. There are challenges in all positions from entry level to highly skilled and it appears this will remain an issue as long as the economy stays strong.
Also the high school graduation pool is decreasing making the competition for students at the University level a real battle.