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Flagler’s Unemployment Back in Double Digits While Florida’s Stalls at 7.1%, Mirroring U.S.

| July 19, 2013

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

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

The economy in Flagler County and Florida is mirroring that of the United States: it makes small advances then stalls, still unable to find a decisive way to add jobs and convince discouraged workers from returning to the workforce.

In June, Florida’s economy added 9,300 jobs, but most of those were government jobs. The private sector added 2,300 jobs, and the state unemployment rate held at 7.1 percent, same as in May. Those figures are based on the monthly survey by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The state releases a different survey that breaks down unemployment by counties. In that survey, Flagler County’s unemployment rate went from a revised 9.6 percent in May (it had initially been pegged at 9.5 percent) to 10.2 percent in June. The number of people with jobs fell by 830, one of the sharpest drops of the year. The number of people in the labor force also fell, by 669. But those figures also reflect seasonal fluctuations as people move north during the summer.

Flagler’s is the second-highest unemployment rate in the state after Hendry County’s, at 13.5 percent. Flagler is one of three counties with double-digit unemployment. The third is St. Lucie, at 10.1 percent. Volusia had a 7.1 percent unemployment rate in June, and St. Johns, which has consistently fared better, came in at 5.6 percent.

St. Johns generally benefits from its proximity to Jacksonville and that city’s large job base, with St. Johns as its bedroom communities.

The state survey also shows overall jobs in Florida declining. The seasonally adjusted total number of people with jobs in June was 9,416,000, down 13,000 from the previous month.

“Yes the unemployment rate is the second highest in the state” in Flagler, Lou Paris, the business development and communications manager at the Center for Business Excellence said. “Unfortunately there’s no way of sugarcoating that. But I do think that coming from such a severe position we were in in the previous years, the highest point was almost 17 percent, we have made a dramatic improvement.”

The nature of the improvement is what Flagler residents should take heart from: the economy was previously disproportionately dependent on construction.

“Even during the recession everyone knew that a change had to come, and that change was to bring more business diversity to the region. That’s not something that happens overnight, it’s something that has to be well orchestrated,” Paris said. That has been taking place. “Is it a rocky road? It is, we have ups and downs along the way, we will, but all the actions taking place in the county are helping us get in the right direction.”

Paris points to a particular indicator from the center’s perspective. The center runs a program for entrepreneurs called Start-Up Quest. But more and more participants have been dropping the program for one overriding reason: they’ve been getting jobs, or interviewing for jobs. Paris also hears from Flagler workers who’ve been unemployed for a year or more, but who report to him that the people they know are consistently getting jobs, giving them the impression that their chance is next.

Looking at the fine print, construction showed a gain of 2,200 jobs, service-providers added 7,200 jobs, retail added 2,800, education and health services added 2,400 and government, led by state government jobs, added 7,000 jobs.

At the losing end, professional and business services lost 5,600 jobs, leisure and hospitality lost 4,400, while most others sectors stayed flat.

“The creation of more than 2,000 private sector jobs last month is further evidence of the state’s continuing economic recovery,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a release.

Last month the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research reported that consumer confidence in the state is at a post-recession high. Florida’s 7.1 unemployment rate remains below the national rate for the fourth straight month.

Several large companies have announced plans to bring jobs to the state, among them California-based CHCS Services, an information technology company, which plans to bring up to 385 jobs to Pensacola, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s plan to locate a facility in Tampa, creating almost 600 well-paying life sciences jobs, and Amazon, which would bring 3,000 jobs to the state. Flagler County has been adding up its own successes on a smaller scale.

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5 Responses for “Flagler’s Unemployment Back in Double Digits While Florida’s Stalls at 7.1%, Mirroring U.S.”

  1. Magnolia says:

    What steps is the Chamber taking to remedy this? Anybody know?

  2. Geezer says:

    I’d like to see a graph that shows the percentage of Flagler (and statewide) residents who earn a
    “living wage.” But that would be too sad a graph to show.

  3. Trudy says:

    I have to get my children out of this state. Its worse then Detroit in some areas. Since there will NEVER be any factories or large corporation coming to Palm Coast the working force is left with competing for jobs that are all low paying service work. That’s great if your 15 and live with you parents, but what about 98% of the other citizens who are over 40 and have to pay a mortgage. Its all STACK against the lower class of society who use to be the middle class.

  4. Raul Troche says:

    Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. I have been unemployed since March 21 when the state shut my business down. This was done in violation of Florida statutes but I have yet to find someone in this city or state to help get Troche’s Construction back. If I try to run my little business it is a $1,000/day fine a third degree felony and I automatically go to jail. Yet my customers and helpers love me and still keep asking when will I be back in business. Even so one of the fines they gave me is an illegal $22,419.00. Now I am on food stamps and dependent on others for my support. I know several business people who refuse to come back to Flagler due to all the costs and regulations. Maybe they would rather have another foreclosure here. I wish I could find an attorney or organization that could help me get my life back and to prosecute or sue some of the government lawbreakers who got me here in the first place. Righteousness exhalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people.

  5. Gia says:

    Don’t be fooled by all the propaganda These jobs are only par time.

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