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Flagler’s Unemployment Rate Falls to 11.9%, Its Lowest Level Since December 2008

| October 19, 2012

florida unemployment report september october 2012

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

Last Updated: 1:13 p.m.

Flagler County may have a little something to cheer about: its unemployment rate in September fell to 11.9 percent, from 12.3 percent the month before. That’s the lowest unemployment rate in the county since December 2008, when it was 11.8 percent.

Florida’s unemployment rate dipped down as well in September, to a seasonally adjusted 8.7 percent, from 8.8 percent the month before, as the state continued its slow but steady grind back to health, albeit with less job creation than expected, or needed: the state added just 800 jobs overall in September, leaving 808,000 Floridians officially jobless, and many more unemployed, but no longer counted among the jobless, because they’ve quit looking.

But in Flagler County, the unemployment rate fell even as the labor force grew by a very healthy 501 workers, breaking a trend dating back many months where unemployment drops had more to do with a shrinking labor force than with people actually finding work. Some 585 net jobs were added to Flagler County in September, reducing the ranks of the unemployed from 4,171 to 4,087. Flagler remains the county with the second-worst unemployment rate in the state. Rural Hardee County is first, with 14.2 percent. But Flagler is only fractionally worse than St. Lucie (11.7 percent) and Indian River (11.3 percent).

Monroe County had the state’s lowest unemployment rate (5 percent), followed by Walton County (5.5 percent), Okaloosa County (5.9 percent), and Franklin County (6.3 percent). Many of the counties with the lowest unemployment rates were those with relatively high proportions of government employment.

The unemployment rate in the nation fell to 7.8 percent last month, its lowest level since January 2009, the month Barack Obama was inaugurated president. The improving jobs picture in Florida is a political paradox for Gov. Rick Scott’s administration and his Republican Party: the governor is taking credit for the recovery, but the recovery is also helping Obama’s prospects of winning Florida–though those prospects dimmed considerably after his first debate encounter with Mitt Romney. Obama had been leading in Florida in most polls. He is now losing in most polls, by an average of 2.5 percentage points, according to Real Clear Politics. (See below.)

“I hear it out in the marketplace everywhere I go, sometimes it’s incremental, someone picking up one person,” or construction activity adding one or more people, says Barbara Revels, who chairs the county commission and the county’s Economic Opportunity Council. Inquiries from potential employers to Helga van Eckert. the county’s economic development director, have “ramped up dramatically” in the last few weeks, Revels said, and not from small businesses, but from businesses with the potential of adding 50, 100 or 200 jobs. They remain just inquiries, but they’re a measure of increased business activity.

None of this is diminishing the purpose of the county’s jobs council. “It’s the same purpose,” Revels said, “the purpose of trying to make sure that Flagler County, as we recover economically, that we don’t fall into what I call the one-company town, where we only have a data fulfillment center and construction. I want us to be diversified with jobs that will stay here when we have the next down, that we know will always happen.”

The nine-member council remains “very anxious and engaged,” Revels said, its diversified background itself a reflection of the business opportunities its members are seeking for the county as they meet with business owners. Meanwhile, as construction jobs return to the county, the trick is to ensure that the economy doesn’t fall back into a radical boom-bust cycle driven by that one industry, Revels said.

“Construction needs to be what every builder and supplier wants, and what every Realtor wants,” she said, “you want a normal, strong economy that doesn’t have peaks and valleys, where a plumber knows he can hire the five people he needs to hire and he can keep them on, where he’s not having to pay a lot of overtime or having to lay them off in a week. He wants some sort of consistency.” With that consistency comes the assurance that the work will still be there in the longer run, enabling workers to buy a car, buy the family some clothes, go out to restaurants more often, and trigger that trickle-down economic effect.

Van Eckert confirmed that the jobs outlook locally appears to be brightening, even if not radically so just yet.

“There has been an upswing on manufacturing,” van Eckert said in an interview early this afternoon, “and we have seen some interest in more office type of positions as well. A number of them are extremely competitive. They’re not just looking at Florida. They’re looking at Georgia and the South in general,” but others are looking at the sort of environment Flagler offers. The county’s target industries are in the 20 to 120 employee range at the moment.

While many businesses are waiting to see what the presidential election brings, van Eckert said, the local direction of the job market is not a fluke. “I think this is a trend, and I think we’re definitely on an upswing–a conservative one, granted, but base don the activity we’re seeing in our office as far as inquiries and planning, as far as what people want to do over the next year, there’s definitely an interest out there. We just have to position ourselves properly.”

Some highlights from the jobs report: Statewide, construction added 4,200 jobs, a 1.3 percent increase over August figures. Manufacturing added 1,800 jobs, trade, transportation and utilities added 5,000, leisure and hospitality added 4,600, and education services added 2,400.

In the loss column: Financial activities lost 2,500 jobs, professional and business services lost 8,500, led by a loss of 9,400 jobs in administrative and waste services (the job losses were slightly offset in that sector by a gain of 1,000 in professional and technical services), and government lost 2,700 jobs, most of it in state government jobs.

The full report is below.

Florida Unemployment Report, September 2012

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13 Responses for “Flagler’s Unemployment Rate Falls to 11.9%, Its Lowest Level Since December 2008”

  1. Yellowstone says:

    Now we need to add the latest fall out from Palm Coast Data . . . .

    Has the ‘trickle down theory’ worked as well for you as the major shareholders? Your share of the trickle down was a job that ended aburptly, unemployment, a costly (if even affordable) healthcare prgram, and little to no prospects of future financial stabilty.

    Now, are you going to vote to rekindle the same theories that got you here – or vote for fair and equal treatment of all Americans? It’s your choice! Read. Get smart. Don’t allow those wealthy job creators do you and your family in again.

    We are counting on you to vote. SO, GO VOTE ASAP . . .

  2. Biker says:

    So basically 3+ % more just gave up looking for jobs, so now they are not counted as unemployed. Fuzzy math can do wonders at election time.

  3. goalie says:

    That’s nice. What about those of us in Flagler county who can’t get a job because they are over qualified and no place here will give us a chance because we have a masters degree. Can’t even get a call from the places hiring to even talk to me. So much for hiring people for Flagler county businesses.

  4. Flagler Citizen says:

    I was taught a long time ago that while numbers don’t lie, they don’t always tell the truth either. What the numbers do not illustrate are the underemployed i.e. the person who was making $50,000 but is now bagging groceries at the supermarket!

  5. Lonewolf says:

    My father used to say …when things start looking good people vote in the republicans….when things go bad they vote in the democrats to fix it

    Things are getting better..I know, lets vote out the people who fixed that gigantic financial mess. That really makes sense doesn’t it?

  6. Binkey says:

    The no longer looking is used when it’s not election time too.
    The chart shows a trend towards lower unemployment, the chart doesn’t show why it’s trending that way.


    I feel that consumers are the job creators, if business owners don’t have customers they have no business. I will not try to open a business in Palm Coast because the infrastructure makes it difficult for customers to get to the business I would open. No customers, no business.

  7. Ron says:

    I’m always amazed when people see what is obviously good news, and then immediately place a negative spin on it to further a political agenda.

    I don’t care what anyone says, a decrease in the unemployment rate is good news in my book.

  8. The Truth says:

    “But, but, but… ” – says every Republican voter

    • Stevie Nicks says:

      I don/t see a flourishing economy in Flagler or anyplace else. Even if the numbers are the truth, the reality of what we see around this community is devastating and depressing. I can not think of anything Obama has tried that worked at all. Welfare rolls have increased 32% under his leadership, food stamp enrollment is up by the millions and more people are enrolling in disability than jobs are created. This is not the record of success. It is dismal and it is obvious.

      None of the politicians will fix anything because the American people are too lazy to hold them accountable. If anything….. this mess is all our faults.

  9. Clint says:

    This unemployment percentage “BULL” is a total shame. The country will never put 23 million citizens back to work because there is not 23 million jobs available and NEVER will be again. That is until we decide to bring manufacturing back to America and pay Americans a “FAIR” wage plus benefits…..
    IT AIN”T GOING TO HAPPEN FOLKS !!!!!! So the roller coaster chart will be just that a “CHART” and nothing more.

  10. DWFerg says:

    Always nice when the trend is in the Right direction , however one must question when a big round of applause follows a 0.3 % reduction in Unemployment by our elected leaders and other Government paid bureaucrats are the loudest cheerleaders– Let’s face the reality of Flagler county, the Truth is one of our largest employers may not be in business much longer(PCD), and inquiries for corporate relocation / investment are great, but inquiries are not “sales”—-The proof we are progressing as a job creating , economic developer here are commitments , not Chamber of Commerce type optimism !– 11.9 % UNEMPLOYMENT indicates that we are in drastic need of new Growth- i.e. jobs !!!! Retiree and Snowbird money has its limitations—-We need young families with jobs here in Flagler county NOT residents who must get on the Interstate , I-95, to go to work !!

  11. Bob C says:

    I would question the 585 net jobs added in Flagler in one month. The state added 800 jobs in the month and Flagler added 585 of those?? Did the writer of the article research where the large number of hires came from? What employers did the hiring and in what type of positions?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Yes we did have some gains in jobs in Flagler BUT the biggest gain by % was in GOVERNMENT jobs. So all in all thats not good for the tax payer and economy as a whole.

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