Florida’s Jobless Mark Ticks Down
By Jim Turner
The News Service of Florida
Florida’s unemployment rate dipped slightly from January to February, with Gov. Rick Scott continuing his focus on private-sector job creation.
The state’s jobless rate for February stood at 5.6 percent, down from 5.7 percent a month earlier, the state Department of Economic Opportunity announced Friday.
Out of a workforce of 9.7 million, the monthly mark represented an estimated 548,000 jobless Floridians, a decrease of 6,000 from January, according to the state agency.
Scott, who went to Norris Sports Group in Naples to announce the latest numbers, pointed to a projected 14,900 private-sector jobs created across the state in February, saying that “more opportunities are becoming available for families each month.”
The largest month-to-month gains were found in the fields of education, health care, food and drink services, administrative and support services, and state and local government.
Increases were also recorded in construction, real estate, and transportation.
However, as the calendar moved away from the year-end holiday shopping period, the largest reductions in staffing were seen in retail stores focused on electronics, appliances, clothing, sporting goods, hobbies, books and music.
The state continues to slightly exceed the national unemployment mark, which stood at 5.5 percent for February.
Florida was one of 26 states that recorded reductions in unemployment between January and February, while six went up and 18 reported no change, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The state with the largest month-over-month increase in employment was California, where Scott will travel in April on a two-day business recruitment effort. The next highest states were Georgia and New York, another anticipated destination for one of Scott’s “business development missions.”
Looking at employment over the past year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics placed Florida third for job growth, up 266,600, trailing only increases of 357,300 in Texas and 476,400 in California.
Across Florida, the metro areas with the lowest unemployment marks for February were Gainesville at 4.7 percent, followed by 5 percent in the Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin metro area, the West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Delray Beach metro area and the Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island metro area.
At the other end, the Homosassa Springs metro area had the highest unemployment, at 7.9 percent. Others at the upper end of unemployment were The Villages at 7.6 percent; Sebring, 7.2 percent; and Ocala, 6.7 percent.