Three days after the federal Labor Department released the gloomiest jobs report in 17 months, with job creation falling to just 20,0000, Florida today released its own figures showing 7,000 more people out of work, but also 8,300 net jobs created, and an unemployment rate ticking up a decimal point, to 3.4 percent.
The unemployment rate rose sharply in Flagler, from 3.9 percent to 4.5 percent–the sharpest month-over-month rise since last January. The caveat: such sharp rises are common in January, and have been reversed over the past several years by better subsequent numbers. Flagler’s unemployment rate in 2018 averaged 4 percent.
Even though Flagler’s unemployment rate rose, other base indicators showed strength: the number of people with jobs rose by 657, an unusual and impressive 1.5 percent, sending Flagler’s employed labor force to a new record, and rising by 2,000 compared to January 2018. The labor force rose by 1,000 in a single month, and by 2,000 over the last 12 months. Both are an indication that Flagler is attracting new working-age residents. They don’t necessarily work in the county. But the reflect a workforce earning checks in Flagler and surrounding counties. As the labor force grew, so did the number of unemployed–from 1,823 to 2,175 in January.
The figures are part of the state’s annual “benchmarking,” which revise the state’s employment and unemployment figures of the past months. That’s done annually in March.
Job sectors in Florida seeing gains in January included construction, service production, professional and business services, and education services. There were modest gains in retail trade, real estate, arts and entertainment, small losses in manufacturing and hotels and restaurants, and larger losses in finance and insurance, health care and social assistance, and government.
Flagler’s unemployment rate of 4.5 places it 21st from on the list of counties, with Gulf County’s 7.4 percent and Bay County’s 6 percent topping the chart, and Monroe’s 2.8 percent and St. Johns’s and Okaloosa’s 3.4 percent the state’s healthiest.
Several national trends are contributing to a cool-down. The effects of the 2017 tax cut are fading, global growth is slowing, the trade deficit is growing and economic growth is expected to slow as well. On the other hand, wage growth was a strong 3.4 percent, best in a decade, and the economy had still added an average of 186,000 jobs the two previous months, bringing down the unemployment rate to 3.8 percent and extending the national economy’s streak to 101 consecutive months of job growth, however tepid. The government shutdown may have played a role in the latest numbers nationally.
The full report is below.