The December unemployment report was neither exciting nor remarkable. But it was also not bad. For the past 13 months, Flagler County’s unemployment rate has been stuck within in narrow band in the mid-5.5 percent range, bottoming out at 4.9 percent last May and peaking at 5.7 percent three times along the way. In December, the rate fell to 5.4 percent.
The rate did not fall because employment increased but because the labor force shrank somewhat, by about 150 people, to just under 45,000 workers. That’s still 1,500 more than a year ago. The number of people employed was flat, at 42,538, almost identical to the number in November. The number of the unemployed decreased to 2,426.
People are considered employed as long as they record one hour of work in the previous four weeks. The jobs are not all in Flagler County. Rather, people are considered employed as long as they hold a job anywhere. The employment numbers reflect those for residents of Flagler County.
In Florida, the unemployment rate was flat, at 4.9 percent, and the number of jobs actually decreased by 700, and by 2,700 when private-sector jobs alone are counted. Government jobs, in other words, eased the blow. Some 9,000 people were added to Florida’s unemployment rolls.
The rate has changed little over the past year, fluctuating even less than that of Flagler. It was 5.1 percent a year ago. Total employment in the state was 8.46 million. There were just under 500,000 Floridians out of work. The numbers do not reflect those too discouraged to have looked for work, or those who have dropped out of the workforce altogether.
The federal government keeps track of the unemployment and underemployment rate in the states–the so-called U-6, or alternative unemployment, rate, which includes those working part-time because they could not find full-time work, or because their hours have been cut back, even though they want full-time work, and also those who have abandoned the workforce. When that rate is calculated, Florida’s unemployment and underemployment rate stands at 10.3 percent, five decimal points above the national average.
Gov. Rick Scott, attending the presidential inauguration in Washington on Friday, issued a release that said Florida businesses created 237,300 new private-sector jobs in 2016.
The full jobs report is below.