Florida’s Jobless Rate Edges Down in May
Florida’s unemployment rate in May fell to 8.6 percent, down 0.1 percentage points from April and 2 points lower than a year ago, the Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday.
In human terms, 794,000 people actively seeking jobs failed to find one in May, a drop of 10,000 from April and 187,000 less than May 2011. It’s the first time since January 2009, that Florida’s numbers fell below 800,000.
Florida’s civilian workforce in May totaled nearly 9.3 million, an increase of 31,000 over last year.
The U.S. rate remained unchanged from April to remain at 8.2 percent.
“We will continue collaborating with our partners at Enterprise Florida and Workforce Florida to create a reemployment system that produces the best workforce in the nation to support Florida’s growing businesses,” said DEO Executive Director Hunting F. Deutsch.
Total employment grew by 2.6 percent over the year to 8.5 million, with 218,000 more people employed than a year ago. Of that figure, the number of people employed in nonagricultural jobs inched up 0.7 percent to nearly 7.4 million, an increase of 50,000 jobs.
Government employment continued to shrink, led by a 4.5 percent year-to-year drop in state government employment, a loss of 9,700 jobs.
Jobs officials and the governor touted a laundry list of milestones as the state continues to recover. Florida has experienced 18 consecutive months of year-to-year unemployment rate decreases. The number of jobs has grown year-to-year for 22 straight months.
“Florida’s continued steady decline in unemployment shows that Florida is on the right track.” Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement. “I remain committed to growing private-sector jobs in our state by making Florida the No. 1 place for business so that every Floridian can have the opportunity for a job.”
Sectors driving the improved numbers included a 2.1 percent increase in retail trade, while manufacturing inched up 1.7 percent. Health care, a particularly large employment sector, grew by 2 percent.
Construction employment remains weak, though, with overall construction sector employment down 5.7 percent year-to-year. Of particular interest in Florida’s market, building construction employment was off 9.3 percent.
Monroe County had the lowest jobless rate in the state at 4.9 percent. It was followed by Walton County (5.3 percent), Franklin County (6.1 percent) and Lafayette County (6.5 percent.)
Flagler and Hendry County had the state’s highest unemployment rate, 11.7 percent. That was followed by St. Lucie and Hernando Counties (10.9 percent), and Indian River County (10.4 percent).