If you can believe the estimates, unemployment is about as low as it's ever been in Volusia County.

In November, Volusia's jobless rate dropped to 3% from 3.1% in October and 3.5% a year ago. The number of unemployed workers estimated by the state labor agency has dropped to 7,742 from 8,110 in October and 8,773 a year ago.

So what does all this mean? Check out the 10 days of hiring events of Daytona International Speedway and Americrown, two subsidiaries of NASCAR. It wasn't that long ago, people actually competed to get the Speed Weeks' jobs. Now it's the other way around.

If you see a business that looks like it is taking a long time to open, you can just about bet it's because it's having trouble getting competent workers.

So, what are the jobs that are growing out there? The two biggest are construction, up 1,300 jobs from last year, and hospitality, up 1,200 from last year. The other two are education and health services, and manufacturing. Other than traditionally low-wage hospitality, the job growth has been in higher-paying occupations. That helps explain what I reported last week about the strong wage growth we're experiencing. It also helps explain why the economy is doing really well.

Well, not totally well. There are still some areas struggling, such as professional and business services, down 200 jobs from last year; retail trade, down 100 jobs; and financial activities, down 100 jobs. The retail trade issue you can probably blame on internet shopping, but that is offset by the growth of 100 jobs in wholesale trade, which is where the new Amazon last-mile fulfillment center was probably lumped in.

The financial activities jobs should turn around as Chase Bank continues opening offices. The New York-based bank opened branches this year at 1808 W. International Speedway Blvd. in Daytona Beach and 1520 W. Granada Blvd. in Ormond Beach. Now, according to Carl W. Lentz with SVN Alliance real estate, the bank has bought a property for a branch at 2970 S. Atlantic Ave. in Daytona Beach Shores. Chase paid $1.25 million for the property and the existing building will be razed and replaced, according to Lentz.

The bank originally planned a branch in the Shores at Dunlawton Boulevard and Peninsula Drive, but backed off that plan and the property was used for a Starbucks. Chase has been redevelopment friendly to area cities, having also demolished a Blockbuster store building in Port Orange and replacing it with a bank branch. The new branches in Daytona and Ormond also were redevelopments.


I screwed up yet again as I try to work my way through the corporate maze. I reported last week Joshua and Samantha Bratter of Miami bought the Sears building at Volusia Mall. As it turns out, that is incorrect. The Bratter's entity is SRB Holdings Inc., but the sub-entity of the buyer, SRB Daytona LLC, is SRB Holdings LLC. The only SRB Holdings LLC listed on the Secretary of State's website is inactive, so at this point, I don't know who bought the Sears building.

However, I do know the biggest recent real estate deal was by the Joint Venture that bought the rest of Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co.'s undeveloped land, selling 38 acres for $6.4 million to a developer planning an affordable apartments project on Clyde Morris Boulevard. New Rochelle, N.Y., investors bought the apartments at 1648 S. Palmetto Ave., South Daytona, for $4.4 million.

The Joint Venture also sold Orlando developer Emerson International a 23-acre site on LPGA Boulevard in Daytona Beach, just east of Twin Lakes Medical Center for $4 million for a 336-unit apartment complex.

The family that owns Ormond Ace Hardware has bought vacant land at 1480 N. U.S. 1 in Ormond Beach for $575,000. Winter Park-based Dunkin Donuts franchisee Southern Star Restaurant Management has bought the property at 1561 N. U.S. 1 in Ormond Beach for $560,000. However, there's already a Dunkin Donuts going in at 1535 N. U.S. 1.


On a final note, some miscellaneous items include the planning of an assisted living facility named Arya of DeBary on Signature Drive. Construction starting on an office/warehouse at 2357 Bellevue Ave. in Daytona Beach. Construction starting for Vortex Esports Arena at Countryside Station in Port Orange.

Managing Editor Cecil G. Brumley has been tracking business and the economy in Volusia County for more than 22 years. Contact him at cbrumley@hometownnewsol.com (no hyphen) or follow him on Twitter @cecilbrumley.

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