The August unemployment rate fell almost four points in Flagler County, to 6.7 percent–from 10.3 percent in July–and is now just 2.7 points above where it was a year ago, when the economy was considered near full employment and months away from the coronavirus pandemic.
The drop was driven by an equally sharp decrease in the number of unemployed Flagler residents, from 4,664 in July to just over 3,000 in August, about 1,100 more than a year ago. The number of people with jobs increased to 43,000, up 2,200 from the previous month, ut still more than 4,000 workers short of where the labor force stood a year ago, suggesting that thousands remain on the sidelines, having dropped out of the labor force. The way Florida calculates its unemployed, a person must be actively looking for work to be counted.
Flagler remains in the top tier of counties with the worst unemployment in the state, with 22 counties, including St. Johns (4.7 percent), returning to unemployment rates below 5 percent in August. Lafayette County had the state’s lowest unemployment rate, at 3.4 percent. Osceola and Orange counties, the state’s tourism epicenters, remain in double digits, at 15.1 and 11.6 percent.
Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 7.4 percent in August, down four points, remaining 4.4 points above the level of a year ago. The state had an official count of 753,000 unemployed in an active labor force of 10.1 million. Employment was at 8.5 million, with a month-over-month increase of 57,900 jobs. Half the job lost during the pandemic have been regained.
In a departure from previous practice, the state’s labor department today did not make a distinction between private-sector jobs and public-sector jobs, as it had been doing for many years, when it explicitly ignored public-sector job creation. The reason: a fifth of the new jobs in August were government jobs, led by the addition of 15,200 federal jobs and 900 state government jobs. Local government continued to see an erosion of jobs, with a loss of 4,200 in August.
The leisure, tourism and hospitality sector has suffered the most from the pandemic and is still struggling to recover as people are reluctant to travel or patronize restaurants as they did before the pandemic. The sector, employing 1 million people in August, added just 2,600 jobs that month and remains nearly 250,000 jobs short of its level a year ago. The brunt of that loss has been in restaurants and bars. It was only this week that the state lifted its ban on most bars’ regular operations, a ban it had reimposed in June when the state started spiking with covid cases again.
Education and health services picked up 21,000 jobs in August, professional and business services picked up nearly 10,000, and real estate picked up 3,200.
Of all job sectors in the state, finance and insurance alone have recovered and exceeded their job totals from a year ago, having a net gain of 2,200 jobs over the year. Retail trade picked up 1,800 jobs in August but remains 38,000 short of its level a year ago. Wholesale trade picked up 1,000 jobs and remains 12,000 short. While construction appears to continue at a brisk pace in Palm Coast, the sector lost 2,200 jobs last month statewide, with a loss of 5,500 over the year. It is one of the rare sectors that saw job losses last month.
The full August unemployment report is below.