SANFORD, Fla. — Thousands of workers in Central Florida, primarily at the theme parks, have lost their jobs in recent weeks. While the tourism industry in Central Florida is struggling, another is booming and, more importantly, hiring.

What You Need To Know

  • In the past six months 2,300 recently built homes have sold in Orange and Seminole counties

  • More than 500 people signed up for a Thursday job fair with 84 Lumber in Sanford

  • The company has hired about 600 new employees since the COVID-19 pandemic began

In the last six months more than 2,300 homes built in 2019 have sold in Orange and Seminole counties. New development is still happening, and some companies are hiring to keep up with the demand.

The housing market and job market in Central Florida couldn’t be more opposite right now.

The Sanford 84 Lumber can’t keep up with the demand from builders, but for cleaning company owner Nemiah Overstreet, the work has been hard to come by.

“Oh man, I took a huge hit," Overstreet said. "I own a cleaning service and I thought with the pandemic I could capitalize on it, but it has been totally different.”

Nemiah is one of more than 500 people who registered for a job fair with 84 Lumber Thursday.  The company operates in an industry that, unlike others, is thriving during the pandemic.

"New construction is probably up 17 percent year over year as well as in the last 90 days,” said 84 Lumber Southeast Division vice president Rob Woodrow.

The company, which sells materials to help build a house from the ground up, is willing to invest in people like Overstreet, who is hoping he can develop his skills for a new career path.

“They are willing to train, and they have a lot of opportunities to grow and rise up in a company," Overstreet said while applying at their Sanford location. "That is what I am looking for, instead of being stagnant and stuck in a position.”

According to real estate agent Terri Matthias, the supply and demand of homes for sale this past summer is such that new builds are able to cash in.

“There is such low inventory," Matthias said. "There is more demand than there is supply so new construction is flourishing and a lot of builders are working more due to the low inventory.” 

In a competitive job market, others who may not have the background or expertise are willing to remodel themselves to do what they need to do to get by.

“It’s necessary, very, very necessary," Overstreet said. "What I am doing currently it is not paying the bills that I thought it would be, so you have to look at different avenues in different markets.”

And companies are out there looking to fill jobs with people like Nemiah.

“We can teach every aspect of the industry so nobody has to have any experience,” Woodrow said.

According to information from 84 Lumber, the average turnout for one of their job fairs is about 100, and they had that many applicants before lunch Thursday. The company has also hired nearly 600 new employees since the pandemic began.

Next Friday, American Builders Supply will also be hosting a job fair from 9 a.m. to noon at their Winter Haven location, and they are looking to hire about 20 people.