Florida’s unemployment rate in the last month of Rick Scott’s administration was 3.3 percent, Flagler’s rate notched up a few decimal points to 3.9 percent, from 3.6 percent in November, as the number of people with jobs shrank a bit.
Flagler County residents with jobs totaled 44,655 in December, down from 44,872 the previous month, and up from 44,300 a year ago. The number of unemployed Flagler County residents rose from 1,685 to 1,816. The labor force is at 46,471, down a few dozen workers from last month but up about 300 from this time last year. Less than half of Flagler County’s population is in the labor force.
The number of job-holders does not reflect the number of jobs in the county proper, but rather the number of local residents with jobs either in the county or in surrounding counties. It takes just one hour of work in the period surveyed to represent an employed person, so the figures don’t differentiate between full-time and part-time work. Volusia and St. Johns counties also saw a small rise of a couple of decimal points in their unemployment rate, currently 2.7 percent in St. Johns and 3.5 percent in Volusia. St. Johns has had one of the strongest job markets in the state for several years running, coming in second in 2018 behind Monroe County’s 2.6 percent rate.
In Florida overall, the seasonally unajusted number of Floridians with jobs rose by just 1,000 in December, to 9.938 million, while the number of unemployed rose to 341,000, from 313,000 the previous month. In adjusted numbers, employment rose 22,800 while unemployment remained flat.
In 2018, the state netted 231,000 new jobs. Industries gaining jobs over the year included leisure and hospitality (an increase of 45,800 jobs, or 3.7 percent), professional and business services (39,300 jobs, or 2.9 percent), construction (34,900 jobs, 6.7 percent), trade, transportation, and utilities (21,500 jobs, 1.2 percent), financial activities (19,300 jobs, 3.4 percent), manufacturing (12,700 jobs, 3.5 percent), and information (1,800 jobs, 1.3 percent). The government sector lost 9,800 jobs over the year, or 0.9 percent.
Gulf County had the highest unemployment rate in Florida in December, 7.9 percent, followed by Bay County (5.9 percent) and Franklin County, Hendry County, and Sumter County (5.0 percent each). Panhandle County unemployment rates reflect the continued impacts from Hurricane Michael.
It was the first jobs report released on Gov. Ron DeSantis’s watch, but not one he can take credit for just yet. “Florida’s economic foundation has been well laid, but it is time to take it to the next level,” he said. “We need to expand and diversify Florida’s economy so that we can be more competitive with other states for the best jobs and opportunities for all Floridians.”