Metropolitan-area population: 2.7 million
Who's hiring now: James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital, JPMorgan Chase, Raymond James, Verizon
Hottest jobs Senior software developer ($80,900), senior IT systems engineer ($75,500), IT project manager ($75,000), nurse practitioner ($70,200), construction project manager ($67,400)
Tampa has always been a magnet for big companies looking to set up operational headquarters on the cheap. Now its low business costs and steady supply of educated employees are bringing in smaller firms too. The percentage of people working in professional-services jobs here is nearly twice the national average, and that will drive much of the hiring through 2009. Verizon, financial-services heavyweight Raymond James, and a cluster of medical-device manufacturers like Medline are helping to expand the job pool. A dip in construction employment during the past year has pulled the overall growth rate back to earth, but it will be more than offset by the influx of new businesses. Tampa's growing port operations are also luring savvy importers: Ikea Tampa, a 353,000-square-foot supercenter with a 300-seat restaurant, will open in the summer of 2009, adding more than 1,000 jobs to the mix.
Sources: Conference Board, Global Insight, Moody's Economy.com, PayScale, and Radford Surveys & Consulting.