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Unemployment Spike to 9.3% in Flagler Masks Larger Labor Force, More Job Creation and Flurry of Development Ahead

| March 17, 2014

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

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

Florida’s unemployment rate ticked down to 6.1 percent in January, from 6.2 percent the previous month, but the state lost 2,600 jobs. There were 581,000 jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 9,454,000.

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Flagler County’s unemployment rate went back up sharply, to 9.3 percent, from 8.8 percent in December. But in a brighter sign, the county’s labor force also added some 400 people, reversing a trend that had seen Flagler’s labor force shrink most months. The county also had a net gain of some 200 jobs.

Overall, The number of Flagler residents with jobs increased to 31,610 in January, up from 31,427 in December, and from 30,542 a year ago. The labor force increased to 34,854, up from 34,412 in December, but still not significantly higher than its year-ago level of 34,604. The size of the labor force is indicative of the health of the job market: more people will join the labor force if they feel encouraged by the availability of jobs. The numbers suggest that that may be happening, particularly in construction, which has again been fueling the local economy.

“The improving construction sector is certainly helping,” said Jason DeLorenzo, the government affairs director for Flagler Home Association and a member of the Palm Coast City Council. “In 2011 only 145 residential dwelling units were permitted, in 2012 the total increased to 230 and last year was 515.” According to a National Association of Home Builders study, every 100 single family home built produced the equivalent of three full-time jobs, most of them the direct result of building activity.

Jason DeLorenzo. (© FlaglerLive)

Jason DeLorenzo. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler and Palm Coast are seeing several commercial projects under construction–McDonalds, Verizon Corporate store, Dollar General–with Island, the rebranded Palm Harbor Shopping Center, set to be another big project in the next 18 months. In late January Sea Ray’s Brunswick Corp., the largest manufacturing employer in the county, announced that it would be adding 160 jobs over the next few months, essentially erasing previous job losses at the plant. A new launch facility at the Sea Ray plant will help produce the new L Class Sea Ray, a line of boats that was debuted at the Miami Boat Show. “I was thrilled to hear about the expansion of production at Sea Ray,” DeLorenzo said. “I think they are a strong anchor for our community and it also shows global economic growth when more boats are needed for the market.”

And that’s before major government road projects kick in, such as the widening of Palm Coast Parkway, the Matanzas Woods interchange with I-95, the expansion of the county jail and the rebuilding of the old Memorial Hospital in Bunnell into the sheriff’s new headquarters.

“Construction workers are good local spenders who often eat out for lunch and buy fuel. The increase in construction also leads to an increase in professional service jobs such as insurance, mortgage banking, title, and bookkeeping,” DeLorenzo said. “I am hearing some reports of local construction labor shortage as well and long lead times for materials such as windows, doors and trusses.”

DeLorenzo and Realtor Margaret Sheehan-Jones recently appeared before the Flagler County Economic Opportunity Advisory Council to summarize those trends. “There’s no doubt that there has been an uptick in the construction industry,” Helga van Eckert said, referring to the two appearances. “Needless to say, this is great news. While it’s a competitive market, Flagler County has retained a strong employee base in the building trades and we anticipate growth as the market increases. However, our growth isn’t limited to the construction industry, we are experiencing growth across a number of targeted industries. As these businesses continue to grow, we create a stronger economic base through diversification.”

While infrastructure jobs are not permanent, van Eckert said they are “a part of the overall economic development equation, they provide employment over the next 3-5 years and set the stage for continued growth.”

Statewide, retail trade saw the largest drop in employment in January, with 10,900 jobs lost, or 1.1 percent of one of the state’s largest job sectors. Education and health services lost 3,800 jobs, hotels and food services lost 5,400 jobs, and government lost 3,300 jobs. Among the winners, arts, entertainment and recreation added 6,000 jobs, professional and business services added 8,600, administrative and waste services added 3,400 and wholesale trade added almost 5,000. Other sectors were flat.

In the Palm Coast metro area,nonagricultural employment is up 500 jobs (+2.5 percent) over the year. Four of the ten major industries gained jobs over the year, led by leisure and hospitality (+300 jobs). The only industry losing jobs over the year was professional and business services (-100 jobs).  Other services, government, information, financial activities, and manufacturing were unchanged over the year. Across all of the metro areas in Florida, the Palm Coast metro area had the highest employment growth rate over the year in leisure and hospitality (+9.4 percent).

“The county Economic Opportunity Advisory Council efforts have yielded a great deal of success this year,” van Eckert said. “Companies such as Coastal Cloud, AVEO Engineering, Designs for Health, WP Rawls and Gioia Sails South have made Flagler County their home. Additionally, when presented with the opportunity to expand their operations, TBD Partners decided to expand in Flagler County. These companies, in addition to the expansion of SeaRay Boats, are the sure-things.”

Both DeLorenzo and van Eckert said there are no guarantees with the long-term health of the local and national economies. But most signs point in brighter directions.

Every March, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics and Florida’s labor department release January employment and unemployment estimates as well as revised historical data. Today’s report is the result of that annual process, which is known as “benchmarking.” These benchmark revisions are a standard part of the estimation process and take place this same time every year in each state nationwide. As a result of this annual benchmarking process, the release of January and February 2014 employment data is scheduled for March 17 and March 28, respectively.

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14 Responses for “Unemployment Spike to 9.3% in Flagler Masks Larger Labor Force, More Job Creation and Flurry of Development Ahead”

  1. Time to Leave says:

    Sea Ray will bring people from their other plant to fill its positions ( while destroying the intra-coastal waterway with its polluting huge boats going FULL SPEED up and down, not slowing for Manatees )….Constuction ? What construction, 3 homes in a year ? Give me a break, this city is in SAD shape. Crime is SKYROCKETING..No one want s to leave their homes in fear of assaults or robberies.

  2. RHWeir says:

    9.3% no matter how you slice it is not acceptable. In 2014, there is no excuse for it. The time has come for the citizens of Palm Coast and Flagler County to hold accountable elected and appointed officials for high unemployment and unacceptable crime levels. Construction, flipping houses and short term development schemes that compromise the integrity of neighborhoods for a quick buck, won’t cut it anymore. We need to make this county and Palm Coast, a destination for visitors with money to spend and we need to attract long term investment in white collar industries. We need innovative and forward thinking people in upper level positions in county and city government. This sleep walking by city and county officials has to stop. We need to make this the place to visit in Florida and the place to invest in clean, white collar business. How totally embarrassing, 9.3% unemployment. Worse yet, it lowers property values and continues a destructive cycle.

    • Brad says:

      I’m just curious . . . I don’t understand why everyone thinks that business and job growth is the role of the local government?

      Government is LAST thing you want involved in economic growth. Government’s role is to create policy. We hear a lot of people talking about “what we need”, and the real truth is we need more people to get up and actually fill those “needs”. Local people need to start being that “somebody” in all of those “somebody should” statements. Alot of people complain that “we don’t need another McDonald’s”. That McDonald’s is not going up just because, but because it is filling a demand and I’ll bet you that it will be busy. No, they aren’t the types of jobs we need here, but they are the type of jobs we are going to get if THE PEOPLE don’t start doing rather than looking for government to take care of everything.

      I agree that we need better leadership (in some cases) but we also aren’t going to get that with the dismal voter turnout we have. And that isn’t going to improve if we continue to allow the Supervisor of Elections to remain in office another term after this one is up.

      People can keep pointing the finger at government all they want, but there is 3 fingers pointing right back at them.

      • Genie says:

        @ Brad: In the communities I’ve live in on the west coast, local governments work hand and hand with the Chambers in drawing new business to a community. Only local government can offer incentives. Believe it or not, it is a part of their JOB.

        This one IS the responsibility of local government, Brad, and for some reason Palm Coast has a very BAD business reputation. Who is responsible for business in Palm Coast? The Council, the County Commission and the Chamber. All three are failing here.

  3. Brian says:

    Sea Ray hires 160 , but it didnt tell you of the dirty way they got rid of 170 with false marks , you`re allowed ten marks a year , when you get to six you supposed to be called in for a warning , when you get to 8 your supposed to be called in for a write up , marks are given for lots and lots of reasons , you only get 2 personal days a year , no sick time or accrued sick time, get the flu and be out for a week you`ll shoot to nine marks with out a warning verbal or written , get a slime ball manager mad at you and he`ll throw you under the bus no matter how hard you`ve worked for company , if your from up north your the lowest dirt in the plant , your treated worse then the blacks , who pretty much get stuck in grinding bay and other hazardous area`s of the plant where safety regulations are only followed when their OSHA informant tips them off to a surprise inspection , get hurt by one of their antiquated forklifts or pulley systems , or saw tables , you name it its all held together by un-certified yokels they got working there, they hurt people throw them away like trash , or if a manager gets a bee in his bonet cause your related to someone he don`t like your history , believe me for every 160 they hire they un fairly not only fire , but in a lot of cases maim 170 more that this site and the News Journal refuses to let you know about, I was fired for calling in late , I rushed my pregnant wife to the hospital where we lost our daughter Kaelin , I was devastated they couldn t care less , luckily I had a father in law who was friends with a big wig manager got my job back , but was punished for two yrs straight no raises or Christmas bonuses, I got back in good graces took 5 yrs of Hazmat and Safety classes , would travel down to Merritt Island at 4am to take all them classes nobody else wanted to do , but then I was rewarded , ate lunch with managers traveled to other plants with them , had a much easier job which was my intention because my neck was destroyed in 20001 when a 65 yr old QC dropped his end of a huge window loading it into a home made rack that was dangerous and on wheels to boot , they used their 30 lawyer forces to shut me up and left me crippled for life, no more of my side work of taking down tree`s and landscaping , my body was broken beyond repair , why I went to school all them years just to be run out by a vindictive jerk off of a manager who was getting back at my father in law, thats the true SEa Ray Boats once Mike Collins original plant manager was fired they brought in these people who only built 20 ft boats who were mean , and deceitful , and destroyed lives , Mike Collins worked his way up from grinding bay , he understood the workers and was a very fair man , this new management are a punch of ignorant hillbillies from Tennessee, who take their personal lives out on good hard working people , its a disgrace

  4. Brian says:

    I know my 30 days are up , and I didn`t mention any of the corrupt managers names , only gave original plant manager some praise , yeah bad stuff happened while he was there , but if he found out about it he`d correct the wrong , but nepotism runs deep in that company and a lot of things were kept from him , is why he lost his position , the dirty supervisors and managers turned on him , probably cause he found out things and was gathering all facts before firing them , but they banned together and screwed him over instead , place was never the same our Christmas bones disappeared so management could get bigger one , our Thanksgiving turkeys were taken , and our honey Baked Hams went from 8 lbs to 3 all in the name of greed

  5. Rob says:

    Well stated. There is a definite need for forward thinking elected leaders and ones that have an understanding of economics.

    These short term construction jobs are just that, short term. Many are filled by itinerant labor. The scenario often plays out like this: the prime contractor hires a sub-contractor, who then hires workers and labels them as contractors. This mislabeling lets the contractor avoid taxes and fees that employers would normally be responsible for. They get the low labor rate plus use the subcontracting relationship as a shield for liability. Their justification is the “keep costs down” mantra.

    If you think it doesn’t happen think again. A few years back at Ocean Towers, Hammock Beach, construction, many illegal workers were arrested by immigration and custom police. And of course everyone involved feigned ignorance.
    When a person complains to the city or county the officials usually throw their arms up and take a position of disinterest.

    So no, those construction jobs that have people puffing their chests out are not the panacea for what ails this city and county. The first thing that needs to change is leadership.

  6. shucks says:

    Yes, another McDonalds is coming and yes, this will bring a few more jobs… But really; will these jobs be home sustaining jobs? Will these jobs place food on the table for our families? Or will these allow a family member to add yet another job to their resume of two, now three part-time jobs they have to maintain in order to sustain their household? this is the basis our children begin to run amuck around our community. their parents have to work two and three jobs to keep their homes, as a result, no adult is in the home to actually parent. Even IF there are two parent households. Both parents are working just to survive. STOP BUILDING and fill in what we have vacant! Our families need this!

    • Genie says:

      @ Shucks: You are correct. Palm Coast specializes in low income jobs and tries to pass that off as acceptable. Recently both Staples and Radio shack announced the closure of thousands of locations. Will that include Palm Coast? JUST WHAT WE DON’T NEED.

      We don’t need to extend Bike Week, we need to draw a better class of visitors…those who would be interested in bringing their children here, buying homes, not those who come into town in a roar and fill up the bars.

      Palm Coast would make a great location for a larger university campus, maybe a medical school. That would attract more of what we need and could be located at Town Center, where it belongs.

  7. says:

    we can extend bike week for a month or two and that would result in increase hearing loss which would result in the increase buying of hearing aids here and bring in more money. they might even open up an hearing aid manufacturing plant where people who have an hearing deficit can get a job and that would help our handicap citizens

    • Ben Dover says:

      Yeah Bike week , its only good for people who already have money , people who own hotels and restaurants and bars, cops pull over locals for nonsense they ignore all year long , but some one has to pay for their over time , forget the deaths this event rains down on families every year , 4 yrs ago 16 people, this year like 4 , all so the rich can get richer , they refuse to legalize regular pot , only putting some oil , Charlette`s Oil , named after some rich republicans kid that has seizures , but its fine to put 150,000 drunken bikers on our roads , forget the people with cancer regular pot helps, or people with chronic pain , or bi polar ,other forms of depression or glaucoma, nope they can suffer, cause when it comes to the republican politicians in this state its us us us , me me me,…. they have no problem with the two drugs that kill the most in this country, alcohol and cigarets, they are fine , its their drugs of choice , but people with chronic pain that really need pain medication , instead of doing their job and hunting down the Dr shoppers and dealers and junkies, they just say ,we`ll make it impossible for anyone but cancer patients to get the meds they need, they seized over 3200 peoples scripts in Volusia county illegally , no warrant , and only busted 6 people, and refuse to return the rest , why bother signing Hippa paperwork, we have no right to privacy as far as the republicans are concerned, look around our town, camera`s at every single corner, trying to backdoor us with drones by introducing them into our high school as extra credits for students to fly them , its just a way to integrate them into our neighborhoods, take away the last right of privacy we have, our own back yard, am very leery about these flat panel TV`s , George Orwell was right about everything else in his book they tried getting chips put in new born`s , but they haven`t taken over enough yet to do that, so they settled for our pets, like the drones in high school , a stepping stone, we didn`t know about the chips in smart phones till that geek found it , is there a camera in these new TV`s?, they don`t care if we have any jobs , its all about them and their greed , 4 McDonald`s , 3 Wendy`s, 3CVS`s, 3 Walgreen`s, 5 Publix, 5 of each bank, 10 Kangaroo`s is anyone seeing a pattern here , I think someone is making a lot of money turning our town into a board game, only people working are the city counsels friends, who no doubt will play a big part in this over sized City Hall we said no no no no no NO! to, and its only phase one, you can`t steal money on a little building , but 2 ,3 big ones, they`ll rob us blind ,just like their red light camera scheme and stealing the money out of our utility funds, and all their friends use illegals , so no jobs there , woman couldn`t make cupcakes in her house it was too dangerous, but now that they can hawk booze in the park ,some redneck can make moonshine in his backyard, has like 40 55 gal drums , look just like the ones I used to slap Hazardous waste on at Sea Ray , yeah that`s safe , the cook gets too hot and the whole neighborhood blows up, but…. NO CUPCAKES , they don`t make money on them , she had to rent one of the hundreds of empty buildings in this town they could of easily used for their damn city hall!! Sorry about rant , been awhile lol

  8. Palm Coaster says:

    This is so Miss leading! The unemployment rate in Flagler County may be the second highest in the state but it is well over what is stated in this story. The people who are no longer eligible for unemployment, and those that never were eligible for unemployment because they were perhaps self employed are not included in these numbers. The unemployment rate for this county is despicable. Our City and County Commissioners just keep spending money like it is in endless supply!

  9. Steven Nobile says:

    I agree that the data and the future is looking brighter. There is no doubt that construction has picked up significantly and this is good news. However, we need to avoid the mistakes of 5 years ago where 83% of our economy was based on one industry, real estate. It is time to aggressively seek and bring more community acceptable industry to the county and especially the city of Palm Coast. Industry that generates dollars from outside the county other than home or building sales. One industry we should be looking into is technology. Higher paying jobs, clean industry and a non-regional specific industry. I fully enjoy the work done by the city of Palm Coast to beautify our community, but there must be a balance that shows the same enthusiasm in growing our community for the future.

  10. devrie says:

    I know it sounds silly, but I think planning is really a problem in much of Flagler County. There are issues with zoning and services that don’t make the county conducive to attracting people with new skills and toward attracting new businesses. Driving is weird–you have to drive past stuff to get somewhere meaningful. A number of businesses probably avoid the county because it’s difficult to determine what the labor force and client base might be. So you’d want to attract a diverse home-buying crowd by ensuring a higher walk-score, Etc. People save money on commutes when businesses are more centrally located. Then, you’d want to ensure proper community services are available, because that builds the next generation of labor force. Then, we’d want to ensure that businesses are zoned so that they they have access to great transportation, pedestrian traffic, residents without burdening them, Etc.

    Flagler County is awesome in a lot of ways, but it hasn’t really moved along with the modern economy in terms of planning: traffic, zoning, sidewalks, location of community services, Etc.

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