Florida’s unemployment rate declined for the first time since February 2006, the state’s labor department announced this morning, falling to 12 percent from 12.3 percent last month. The state added 15,500 net jobs over the month, though the net loss of jobs over the year still adds up to 117,900.
A surge in government and tourism jobs is responsible for the majority of new jobs. Federal jobs, led by census employment, accounted for 8,100 of the of the new jobs. State government lost 300 jobs, and local governments added just 100 jobs.
- April: Job Creation Soars by 290,000, Unemployment at 9.9%
- March: At 16.6%, Flagler Unemployment Crawls Lower
- March: US Economy Adds 162,000 Jobs, 1st Increase Since 2007
- January: 16.9% Unemployment in Flagler, 11.6% in Fla.
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- Complete April 2010 Florida Unemployment Report
The tourist industry added 9,600 jobs. But construction, too, showed a 2.4 percent gains, adding 2,400 jobs (several road projects funded with federal stimulus money are under way, accounting for most of the growth. Actual building construction is still in decline, with a job loss of 400 for the month.) Health care added 3,800 jobs. Manufacturing jobs grew a modest 1.6 percent.
But all other sectors experienced job losses again, led by trades, transportation and utilities, real estate and professional service jobs. Retail lost 3,800 jobs.
Flagler County’s unemployment rate fell sharply, to 15.4 percent (from 16.6 percent), but it remains the highest unemployment rate among the state’s 67 counties. Some 5,085 people reported being unemployed in Flagler in April, compared with 5,505 in March, out of a labor force of 32,943.
However, while the net number of unemployed people in Flagler fell by 420, it does not mean that 420 jobs were created: The Flagler labor force shrank by 215 people, suggesting that the decline in unemployment is helped at least in part by unemployed people moving out of the county.
Volusia County’s unemployment rate fell from 12.7 percent to 11.9 percent, and St. Johns’ unemployment rate fell from 10.3 percent to 9.4 percent.
The labor department, which perers to refer to itself as the “Agency for Workforce Innovation” (a title that hasn’t quite worked in its favor for the past several years), reports that “Floridians’ consumer confidence index is also showing gains, with a six-point increase from 71 in March to 77 in
April out of an index of 100, as reported by the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business
Research. The largest increase was in Floridians’ perceptions of whether it is a good time to purchase big-ticket
consumer items, which rose 14 points to 87. Consumers have a positive outlook on short- and long-term
economic conditions as well. Expectations of national economic conditions over the year rose 10 points to 80.”
Last month, the nation experienced the biggest employment surge in four years, with 290,000 jobs created—most of those unrelated to census employment.
Flagler County’s 15.4 percent unemployment rate remains substantially the highest in the state, with Hernando a somewhat distant second at 14.3 percent, Marion at 13.9, St. Lucie at 13.7, Hendry at 13.3 and Indian River at 13.1. Orange County (that is, Orlando and surrounding areas) is at 11.2 percent. The lowest unemployment is recorded in Liberty County, with 6.7 percent. Monroe, Alachua, Leon, Okaloosa and Walton counties are all under 8 percent unemployment.
Over the year, the construction industry led the state in job losses, with 45,300. Other industries losing jobs over the year across Florida include: leisure and hospitality (25,400 jobs lost, or a decline of 2.8 percent); financial activities (-23,600 jobs, -4.8 percent); manufacturing (-18,600 jobs, -5.6 percent); trade, transportation, and utilities (-15,700 jobs, -1.1 percent); information (-11,600 jobs, -8.0 percent); professional and business services (-10,600 jobs, -1.0 percent); and other services (-5,400 jobs, -1.7 percent).
The labor department also notes that Gov. Charlie Crist signed Senate Bill 1736 this week, extending eligibility dates for the Extended Benefits (EB) program. The EB program provides unemployment compensation to job seekers who have exhausted all other available benefits and meet all requirements. This program uses federal stimulus funds, signed into law by President Obama in February 2009, and will bring an estimated $128 million in benefits to approximately 107,000 Floridians. The Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation is accepting EB applications online at www.floridajobs.org.