Flagler County’s unemployment rate in November was 3.2 percent, essentially where it’s been almost all year, averaging 3.15 percent over the past 12 months.
Flagler County’s labor force reached nearly 51,000 in August and October, falling back modestly to 50,676 in November, with an employed labor force of 49,000, out of a population of about 120,000, and 1,600 unemployed people. Flagler County’s labor participation rate (those in the labor force compared to all residents 16 and older) is below 50 percent. Florida’s is 59 percent, among the lowest in the nation. The nation’s is 62.1 percent.
The figures are calculated based on county residents and those holding jobs, regardless of whether they hold jobs in the county, out of the county or if they telecommute. The unemployment rate is not seasonally adjusted, and it does not differ between full and part-time work, or take account of those working part-time because they could not find full-time work.
Florida’s unemployment rate dipped to 2.6 percent in November, after a brief surge in claims following Hurricane Ian. The November rate was down from 2.7 percent in October, as Gov. Ron DeSantis credited the state’s “resilience in this economy.”
But the numbers can be skewed. Florida has the stingiest unemployment system in the nation. It provides for a maximum of $275 a week for up to 12 weeks. To qualify, the unemployed must prove that they are actively searching for work. Once their benefits run out, they are no longer considered unemployed in the monthly statistical reports. In most other states, where unemployment benefits stretch to 26 weeks, those individuals are counted as unemployed. In effect, as workers’ unemployment checks run out in Florida, they drop off the unemployment tabulations, artificially lowering the tally.
The federal government calculates a more accurate, “alternative” measure of labor utilization in the states, the so-called U-6 rate. It calculates the unemployed, the under-employed–those working part-time not voluntarily, but because they couldn’t find full-time work–plus discouraged workers no longer counted. Florida’s U-6 unemployment rate is currently 6.3 percent. The national average is 7.1 percent.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, in a report released Friday, estimated that 280,000 Floridians qualified as unemployed in November, down 5,000 from October and 87,000 from November 2021. The estimated labor force grew by 352,000 over the year to 10.756 million.
“Jobs are being added, unemployment is declining even when we had a near-Category 5 hurricane just a couple months ago,” DeSantis said Friday during an event in Fort Myers Beach. “So, it shows you that we have a lot of resilience in this economy, and we’re doing a lot of things right in the state of Florida.”
The national unemployment rate held at 3.7 percent from October to November, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which estimated the U.S. economy added 263,000 jobs in November.
Florida’s leisure and hospitality sector continued to show the largest gains in new jobs, up 9,600 jobs from October and 97,000 over the year. The new numbers came even after the Category 4 Hurricane Ian caused at least two Southwest Florida resorts — Ritz Carlton, Naples and South Seas Island Resort — to lay off more than 800 people.
Ian made landfall Sept. 28 in Lee and Charlotte counties before crossing the state. Speaking to state senators Wednesday, Amy Baker, coordinator of the Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research, noted the impact of the storm on the state’s tax revenues in October.
“We saw, for example, the tourism and leisure (tax revenue) category go up. That had a lot to do with evacuations and people having to travel into hotels. So, it was a little bit higher than normal,” Baker said. “Other things were lower than they should have been. … That’s because people are distracted. They’re dealing with the emergency. Businesses, depending on where you are, were closed right after the hurricane. So, it has kind of a negative effect. That’s detectable, particularly on sales tax (collections).”
Baker cautioned that tourism could be affected by lingering inflation, the prospect of a recession and issues such as a heavier reliance on credit cards.
“Partially because this is mild, what we see is that people may still come, but they make different decisions,” Baker said. “I might have come for a week. And maybe now I’m only going to come for five days. Or I might have stayed in a higher-priced hotel. And now I’m looking for something that gives me a better bargain.”
Consumer prices were up 7.1 percent nationally in November from a year earlier. That was down from 7.7 percent in October and a 9.1 percent peak in June.
Florida was one of three states that posted lower unemployment rates in November than October. Florida also had the largest number of job gains at 28,100, followed by Illinois at 17,500 and Massachusetts at 17,300.
Since the start of November, the state has averaged 6,041 first-time unemployment claims a week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Before Hurricane Ian, Florida averaged 6,120 claims a week going back to the start of July, Department of Labor numbers show. In the three weeks after Ian, the weekly average was 11,871.
Among metropolitan statistical areas, the lowest unemployment rate in November was in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach areas, at 2.1 percent. The next-lowest rates were in the Panhandle, with the Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin area at 2.3 percent and the Panama City area at 2.4 percent.
The Jacksonville area was at 2.5 percent. The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater and Pensacola areas were at 2.6 percent, while the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford region was at 2.7 percent.
As hurricane recovery continued in Southwest Florida, the Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island area’s unemployment rate improved from 2.9 percent in October to 2.7 percent, while the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton region went from 2.7 percent to 2.6 percent.
The highest rate in November was in the Sebring area at 4.2 percent. The statewide unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted, while the regional rates are not.
The full report is below.
–FlaglerLive and the News Service of Florida
Michael Cocchiola says
Goshdarn that evil Biden! Here we are TWO YEARS into his administration and Flagler and America are at full employment. Hell, that’s only smidge better than Lord Trump’s 8% when he was cheated out of his big win.
Not only that, but Biden woke up and got NATO members to back his play against Putin. I mean, isn’t Putin our friend? And didn’t we pretty much disband NATO, that hotbed of international freeloaders, in 2018? I mean they’re back feeding at the trough and protecting Ukraine as it fights for its freedom.
Even worse, inflation is coming down. Gasoline is under $3.00 most places and the stock market is progressing, however fitfully. And to make our national holiday, Christmas, less Merry, the country gave the Senate, a more governorships and attorneys general to the Democrat Party so they can continue to indoctrinate Americans with wokeism, even though most of us don’t even know what wokeism is.
Next, they’ll come after the one true religion in America – wealth. They’ll tax the job creators – the wealthy – so they can’t get wealthier and give their money to the GQP.
It’s going to be a long two years until we can use our exclusive political strategy, cheating and Russian interference (if there is a Russia) to win the White House. But, damn it, well-fed, healthy and safe Americans are happy Americans. And they vote for the f#*kin Democrat Party. We can’t lose America to godless baby-killing leftist socialist groomers. Republicans… get out there and find those 11,780 votes!