On paper, Flagler County’s unemployment rate ticked up two decimal points in May, from 2.6 to 2.8 percent. But it did so because the county added more than 600 people to its labor force, yet again breaking a record and grazing the 50,000 mark according to figures released by the state’s labor office today.
It did so as 530 more people found work last month, for a total of 48,365 employed residents (out of a population of more than 115,000). The figure represents county residents holding jobs anywhere, including neighboring counties or online. The figures don’t distinguish between full time and part-time work.
The county’s 2.6 unemployment rate last month broke a record, and was the latest reflection of a county economy that’s put Covid’s setbacks behind it. There were just under 1,400 unemployed residents last month.
The rapidly increasing labor force–it is larger by nearly 2,000 people compared to last year–is an indication of people continuing to return to the labor force, and of people moving into the county. Notably, it tends to be an indication of younger workers and families moving in, presumably balancing out, at least a little, what has been a disproportionate influx of new but retired residents. But the numbers of new families with school-age children has yet to make a mark in Flagler County school’s enrollment numbers, which remain below 13,000–as they have for nearly a decade and a half.
In Florida, May unemployment held at 3 percent for the second month, compared to the national unemployment rate of 3.6 percent, where it’s been for three successive months. Florida’s seasonally adjusted number of employed residents was 9.3 million, an increase of 11,200 jobs. (That would suggest that 5 percent of Florida’s new jobs went to Flagler residents. But Flagler’s figures as released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity are not seasonally adjusted.)
There were 313,000 officially unemployed Floridians. It’s an undercount, because the state does not count the unemployed who don’t abide by the state’s very rigorous requirements for those collecting unemployment checks, nor does it count those who have run through their 12 weeks of unemployment benefits, the lowest benefit window in the country.
The federal government calculates the alternative measure of unemployment and under-employment for the states. That measure takes into account discouraged workers and so-called involuntary part-time workers (those who are working part-time because they couldn’t find full-time work). That rate, which also includes the officially unemployed, stands at 7.6 percent in Florida, compared to the national average of 8.4 percent.
Private sector employment in Florida regained covid-related losses starting last October, while the labor force in total surpassed pre-pandemic levels in June 2021. Over the past year, leisure and hospitality gained 127,700 jobs, trade, transportation, and utilities gained 110,000 jobs, professional and business services gained 94,900 jobs,, manufacturing gained 25,300 jobs, construction–which was not as severely hit by the pandemic–gained 13,500 jobs, and government, also spared the brunt of covid losses, gained just 8,600 jobs.
In May, Monroe County had the state’s lowest unemployment rate, at 1.5 percent, followed by St. Johns County (1.9 percent). Highlands County posted the highest unemployment rate, at 3.6 percent.