Working in Miami
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Find out how to get a job and work in Miami
Working in Miami certainly has its ups and downs, but that does not mean the city has lost any of its charm. The beautiful beaches and the blazing sunshine are definite upsides to working here. Read about Miami’s economy, the job search, taxation, and more in our guide.
Employment in Miami
- More than 1,200 multinational companies have headquarters in Miami and due to its proximity to Latin America and the Caribbean the area is often referred to as the “Gateway to the Americas”.
- Even though Miami’s real estate and construction sector suffered during the crisis, the sector still accounts for many jobs in the region.
- Florida is one of seven states that have no state income tax. Nonetheless, expats who count as resident aliens for US tax purposes need to pay income tax on the federal level.
- As almost everywhere in the US, the business culture in Miami is quite informal. Colleagues and business partners are normally on a first-name basis.
Miami’s Economy: A Gateway to the Americas
Much like the rest of the United States and the world, Miami inevitably suffered during the financial crisis. Nevertheless, finding a job in Miami is still quite possible, even for expats. Various multinational companies have established their headquarters in the city, taking advantage of its proximity to Latin America and the Caribbean. For that reason, Miami is sometimes referred to as the “Gateway to the Americas”. As such, expats working in Miami are part of a strong international business community, which, despite the economic dip, is turning the city into a center of commerce and finance. Over 1,200 multinational companies are headquartered in southern Florida, and many of them call Miami home.
In the past, Miami’s construction sector was a lucrative career option for expats. After all, the city experienced a large building boom in the first decade of the 2000s, making it home to the tallest buildings in the state of Florida. This also affected real estate, which saw its highest peak since the 1920s. Unfortunately, working in Miami’s real estate sector is no longer as great an option, ever since the housing market crashed in 2007. Things are, however, starting to pick up again, and the construction sector alone accounts for 113,000 jobs in South Florida.
The city’s International Airport and the Port of Miami are among the busiest in the country. All in all, the Port of Miami directly and indirectly accounts for over 170,000 jobs in the city, and many job seekers intent on working in Miami have found employment at the giant cargo container port.
Miami’s Working Sectors and Their Future
While Miami is certainly a paradise in tropical terms, it may not necessarily be the economic paradise you have dreamed of. There are a few economic sectors still going strong, however. Miami’s workforce of over 1.1 million employees works in tourism, wholesale, retail, transportation, professional and business services, construction, education and health services, as well as healthcare and social assistance. In addition to these major sectors, Miami’s economy relies heavily on international trade.
Of course, employment and economic trends change constantly. Miami’s metropolitan region unemployment rate was 5.4% at the time of writing (September 2016), which is only slightly below the national average (5.5%). According to the US Census Bureau, the sectors with the most jobs in Miami are education and health services; trade, transportation, and utilities; closely followed by leisure and hospitality.
The Hustle and Bustle of Downtown Miami
When it comes to working in Miami, the downtown area is hard to get around. Miami-Dade County is South Florida’s main destination for global business, from Latin America especially, with ongoing retail and commercial development in the downtown core. It is also home to a number of consulates, international trade offices and international chambers of commerce. Working in Miami’s downtown area also means making a living in the historical center of the city, among schools, universities, and various museums.
Home to a variety of state, county, and federal government offices, Miami’s central business district combines office space with urban residential buildings. There are also plenty of connections to Miami’s public transportation system, making for a smooth commute for expats working in Miami’s central business district.
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Doing Business in Miami
Where to Look for Jobs
Finding a job can be quite difficult in Miami, as is the case in much of the USA. However, with some effort and drive, you may be able to maneuver the hurdles imposed by unemployment rates and recession. As the very first step, you need to know what exactly you’re looking for. Maybe you would like to work in a particular industry and in a particular area of Miami.
Once you have narrowed down your search, online job databases and search engines, such as Monster, Dice, and CareerBuilder, are good places to start looking for job openings. However, it is usually also worthwhile to use traditional resources, such as local newspapers. Most papers list job openings as well, and in Miami the Miami Herald and the Sun Sentinel are the most prominent. Finally, there is no shame in relying on your business contacts and your expat network, as many positions are not openly advertised in the US.
Once you have applied for a job and met your prospective employer for an interview, you should not hesitate to follow up on your application by thanking them for the opportunity.
Social Security Numbers and No State Tax: Administrative Information
Everyone working in Miami, and in the US for that matter, must apply for a social security card, which will show their individual social security number. If you hold a nonimmigrant visa, you should apply for a social security number online ten days after you have arrived in the USA. Immigrants, on the other hand, can request their social security card when they apply for their visa.
In the United States, social security contains retirement benefits as well as disability and survivors insurance. Anyone working in the US automatically contributes 6.2% of their salary towards social security. For more information on this topic, have a look at our guide on working in the USA and visit the homepage of the Social Security Administration.
Florida is one of seven US states that does not collect any income tax, so you will only be taxed at the federal level while in Miami. Expats living and working in the United States on a permanent basis are taxed the same way as US citizens. If this is not the case for you, you should see if you qualify as a resident or non-resident alien by taking the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) so-called Substantial Presence Test.
Different Country, Different Culture: Working in Miami
Depending on your country of origin, chances are that American business men and women are a lot more direct than what you are used to. Of course, this does not mean that they are in any way rude. Your Miami-based business partners will, however, most likely not take the time for lengthy introductions, but rather get straight to the point.
At the same time, most companies have quite an informal communication style, and colleagues and business partners are often on a first-name basis. In business settings, however, socializing is usually not as important as dedication and hard work.
Don’t be surprised if your colleagues or business partners invite you to their home for dinner or drinks. Sometimes these types of invitations are uttered quite casually, but if a specific time is given, you can be sure it’s an actual invitation. Generally, it can be considered rude to decline such invitations, so they should not be ignored without good reason.