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From Depression to Mere Recession Flagler Unemployment Falls to 12.7%

| March 30, 2012

Click on the chart for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

It’s been almost four years since unemployment was that low in Flagler County: 12.7 percent in February, a sharp fall of almost a full percentage point from January’s 13.6 percent, and the 14.5 percent rate posted this time last year. The improvement is mirrored statewide.

The state’s unemployment rate dipped in February to 9.4 percent, the lowest since February 2009, the state labor agency reported Friday.

The rate was 0.2 percentage points lower than in January, and nearly a point and a half lower than a year ago.

The Department of Economic Opportunity said, however, there remained 869,000 people looking for work out of a state labor force of just under 9.3 million, and Florida’s rate remains well above the nation’s jobless rate of 8.3 percent.

While Flagler continues to struggle with the state’s highest out-of-work rate, two details suggest that local improvements may be even stronger than they appear: the county’s labor force grew by 600 people in February, reversing a trend that had seen the labor force decline in previous months. And the number of people employed improved markedly, by almost 800. In other words, the labor market’s figures are improving not because people are dropping out of the job rolls, or because they’re moving out, as figures suggested in previous months, but because new jobs are being created, drawing in more workers.

Statewide, too, the numbers in February were better than the previous months, when Florida experienced a net loss of jobs. The state had more than 10,000 more jobs in February than it did in January, and DEO said the state’s number of jobs is up 1 percent over a year earlier.

February was also a strong month for job creation nationally, and a number of economists have noted that it’s hard to separate how much of the job growth in any one location is rooted in the economic policies there versus just being part of the overall improving national economy.

Job growth in the nation as a whole, however, has outpaced the recovery in Florida. While Florida has seen 1 percent job growth over the year, the state is actually holding the country as a whole back – the nation has seen 1.5 percent job growth in the same time period.

Still, Gov. Rick Scott, who came into office promising to put creating jobs first, trumpeted the latest numbers.

“Florida’s drop in its unemployment rate and increase in private sector job creation continues to prove our state is definitely headed in the right direction,” Scott said in a statement. “The signing of my 2012 Jobs and Economic Development Package represents a significant step towards ensuring Florida is the best place in the nation to create, attract and retain jobs.”

DEO said that 346,000 people claimed benefits this past month, down from a peak of 735,000 collecting unemployment in February of 2010.

The slow economic recovery is starting to be noticed in state tax collections as well. Legislative economists reported this past week that corporate income tax collections are up and that general revenue collection was higher than expected in February. For the fiscal year, general-revenue collections are $74.6 million above earlier estimates, economists said.

Transportation, trade and utilities led the job growth in Florida in February, followed by the private education industry and the health care sector. Construction, however, typically a mainstay of the Florida economy, remains sluggish. The construction industry lost jobs year over year, with construction jobs down 5.1 percent from February of 2011.The drop in private construction jobs was due in part to cut backs in state government spending, DEO said. But the slow housing market remains the main culprit.

Monroe County, which is the Florida Keys, continued to have the state’s most robust employment picture, with only 5.4 percent unemployment. Walton and Okaloosa counties in the Panhandle, both of which have large numbers of military personnel, and Alachua County, home to the University of Florida, also had low unemployment rates, all 7 percent or lower. Despite Alachua County’s relatively low unemployment rate, Gainesville was one of the few metro areas that saw a net job loss in the month. Others were Pensacola and Port St. Lucie.

The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area created the most new jobs during the period, creating just under 21,000, a 1.9 percent increase.

–FlaglerLive and the News Service of Florida

8 Responses for “From Depression to Mere Recession Flagler Unemployment Falls to 12.7%”

  1. Angela Smith via Facebook says:

    When I have my first paycheck safely in the local credit union (NOT doing business with one of the banks that helped put me out of work!), then and ONLY then will I celebrate.

  2. Nancy N. says:

    Walton & Okaloosa have state prisons that are major employers in those areas. The state prison in Alachua county closed within the last month, probably a major factor in the job loss numbers there.

  3. says:

    i hope that these new jobs pay at least 15 and hour which i doubt and at that rate will give your around 30,000.00 a year which you can barely afford a car. and than you have to contribute towards your medical and retirement system. the kids are coming home is what i see.

    • The Truth says:

      I agree that wages are low in this area but unfortunately they always have been. It’s a good sign that we have people getting back to work. Unfortunately, most of those who live here want everything cheap but want to be paid $20+ an hour. You can’t have it both ways.

  4. NortonSmitty says:

    As a bottom feeding small fish swimming in the shallow end of the free market pool , I have to say that it does seem people on the lower tier of the economic spectrum that I deal with are not squeezing the buffalo shit out of the nickel like they have been the last few years. I see this in both residential and commercial accounts. My Father always said you could predict the stock market by looking at how busy workingman’s taverns were. He said that when his customers stopped spending money on a few beers after work, in about six months the Dow would always drop. It made sense. When the ordinary consumers were cutting back on beer, they weren’t spending period, and the entire economy started to slow. This is a better indicator than the tea leaves read by the heralded Economic Cognoscenti who sniff the farts of Hedge Fund managers and tell us things are looking up if their face is not speckled. And they can crow how wonderful the Free Market is because of it’s predictable rationality. Sure.

    But that hasn’t worked since back when the US actually made things here. Before the financial sectors share of total US profits went from 11% in 1981 to as high as 44% in 2002. Before they realized that they could make more and faster profits by trading paper than by loaning money to people that wanted to actually make something. If you can cut some corners, you can really rake it in!

    Of course they are still creating jobs, just not here. It’s a competitive world out there! And we will see our employment rate rise as we become more and more competitive in this wonderful Global Economy. When your children learn to live in dorms and subsist on a fish head a cup of rice a day, we will show those damn Asians the full might of American Exeptionalism! I can’t wait!

    Until that wonderful day, all we got are Tax Cuts and De-Regulation. Hope it’s enough.

  5. palmcoaster says:

    We need more jobs created in Palm Coast and PC Councilman Frank Meeker needs our support on his proposal that made to the news few days ago.
    With few good guidelines this good proposal at no cost until materialized and little cost for a reward can be very successful. Lets support it and give it a try for 12 to 24 months.
    If anyone here thinks is a good idea, write/ contact your elected officials:

    After all many of us came here invited by a friend, family or coworker and some opened succesful small businesses and hired workers contributing to the local economy and still open in spite of the bad economic turn down.

  6. The Truth says:

    This is definitely good news. Sure, it would be nice if wages were higher but at least people are working and earning something. We have to crawl before we walk.

  7. ric says:

    What this tells me is more unemployed left the county to seek employment else where..

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