Florida’s Jobless Rate Drops To 6.2 Percent

By Lazaro Aleman
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 6.2 percent in December, down 0.2 percentage point from November’s rate of 6.4 percent, according to figures released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO) on Monday, Feb. 24. The state agency reports that 6.2 percent is the lowest the unemployment rate has been since June 2008, when it was 6.0 percent. Nationally, the jobless rate was 6.7 percent in December, 0.5 percentage point higher than the state rate. In Madison and Jefferson Counties, the rates likewise dropped, from 5.3 and 8.4 percents in November, to 4.9 and 8.2 percents in December, respectively. Statewide, the 6.2 percent represents 584,000 jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 9,405,000 — not counting those who have given up the search for work or are underemployed or employed part time. Per the FDEO, Florida’s seasonally adjusted total nonagricultural employment was 7,645,000 in December, an increase of 14,100 jobs over the month. Seasonally adjusted means the numbers have been purged of seasonal and other factors that could skew the results. “Compared to December a year ago, the number of jobs in the state was up by 192,900, an increase of 2.6 percent,” the FDEO reports. “Florida’s annual job growth rate in December 2013 was the fastest since June 2006.” For Madison County, the 8.2 percent translates into 564 jobless persons out of a labor force of 6,909, compared with 585 jobless persons out of a labor force of 6,975 in November, when the rate was 8.4 percent. In December 2012, the comparable figures were 673 jobless persons out of a labor force of 7,108, when the unemployment rate was 9.5 percent. For Jefferson County, the 4.9 percent rate translates into 324 jobless persons out of a labor force of 6,552, compared with 352 jobless persons out of a labor force of 6,682 in November, when the rate was 5.3 percent. In December 2012, the comparable figures were 452 jobless persons out of a workforce of 6,522 when the unemployment rate was 6.9 percent. “December 2013 was the 41st consecutive month with positive annual job growth after the state lost jobs for over three years,” the FDEO states, a refrain regularly sounded in the FDEO releases. The industry gaining the most jobs continued to be trade, transportation and utilities, up 60,300 jobs; followed by professional and business services, up 37,400; construction, up 28,800 jobs; leisure and hospitality, up 24,500 jobs; private education and health services, up 16,500 jobs; financial activities, up 12,400 jobs; other services, up 5,200 jobs; information, up 5,000 jobs; and manufacturing, up 4,400 jobs. The only industry continuing to lose jobs over the year was government, down 1,700 jobs, with both state and federal cutbacks contributing to the loss. Monroe County continued to have the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 3.5 percent, followed by Walton County at 4.0 percent; Okaloosa County at 4.4 percent; and Alachua and St. Johns counties at 4.7 percent. Hendry County continued to have the state’s highest unemployment rate at 10.2 percent, followed by Flagler County at 8.8 percent; Hamilton County at 8.4 percent; Madison County at 8.2 percent; and Putnam County at 8.1 percent. For the fourth consecutive month, Hendry County was the only county to have double-digit unemployment in December.

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