One in six working-age adult is out of work in Flagler County, the highest proportion in the county’s history. If the economic crisis appears top be stabilizing nationally, it is still intensifying in Florida, especially locally. With 5,236 working-age adults out of work, Flagler County’s unemployment rate reached 16.9 percent in December, up from 16.8 percent the previous month, according to the latest figures from the state labor agency.
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Flagler’s is by far the highest unemployment rate in the state, where the unemployment rate climbed to 11.8 percent in December, up from 11.5 percent the previous month. It’s the highest unemployment rate in the state since May 1975, when 11.9 percent of Floridians were out of work. The state’s population was a third what it is today. Some 1.09 million Floridians were out of work in December. In 12 months, 232,400 Floridians lost work.
Construction, transportation, food services and utilities experienced the most job losses. Retail was the biggest loser, with 7,800 jobs lost. Industries adding jobs included professional and business services (18,800 jobs), health care (2,700 new jobs), and financial activities such as insurers (2,800). Car dealers added 1,000 jobs, clothing stores added 2,200 and department stores added 2,900, although those numbers reflect seasonal increases to accommodate for the Christmas season–not necessarily permanent job additions.
In local numbers, Hernando is second to Flagler County in the highest unemployment rate category, with 14.9 percent out of work, and St. Lucie with 14.2. Pasco, Lee, Dixie and Charlotte counties have unemployment rates in the 13 percent range. Volusia County, where 31,326 people are out of work, saw its rate climb to 12.5 percent from 12.4. Liberty had the state’s lowest unemployment rate (6.0 percent), followed by Monroe County (7.2), Alachua, Jackson and Leon (7.7) and Holmes (8.3). Government employment in those counties accounted for the smaller proportion of unemployed.