Flagler County’s unemployment rate fell to 6 percent in September, from 6.4 percent the previous month, again setting a most-improved mark since the recession as the number of people with jobs in the county grew by more than 300. Employment in the county now stands at 40,445.
The unemployment rolls shrank by some 150 people in Flagler, bringing the total number of people out of work to 2,569. The labor force grew by about 150, but it remains lower than it was a year ago, suggesting that while the economy is much improved, the county is still attracting more retirees than it is working-age families.
The state’s unemployment rate for September stands at 5.2 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from August’s revised number. September’s preliminary figures are the lowest for Florida since Feb. 2008.
The latest monthly data, released by the Department of Economic Opportunity on Friday, show an estimated 497,000 unemployed Floridians in September. That’s a drop of about 12,000 from August, in a workforce of approximately 9.5 million.
Florida’s unemployment rate continues to hover just above the national mark, which has been stuck at 5.1 percent for two consecutive months. Gov. Rick Scott, who announced the latest job figures at DS Services in Lakeland Friday morning, boasted in a press release that 8,700 new private-sector jobs had been added in September, and highlighted that “our unemployment rate is at the lowest level in seven years.” DS Services — a distributor of bottled water, office coffee and water-filtration systems — is expected to add about 100 jobs by the end of this year, according to Scott’s office.
September’s unemployment drop comes as the August figure, first posted at 5.3 percent, was recalculated to 5.4 percent. The August adjustment was the third consecutive month that the preliminary monthly jobless rate had to be revised upward; and the fourth time this year that the unemployment rate climbed after the review of additional jobs data.
In non-seasonally adjusted tallies statewide, government jobs, which had been losing workers, added 7,200 new jobs between August and September, led by 9,800 new jobs in state positions (local governments shed 2,700 jobs). Auto dealerships added 1,200 jobs. Transportation and warehousing added 1,400 and home furnishing stores added 700 jobs. Clothing and accessory stores lost 2,900 jobs, and there were losses in general merchandise stores, information, real estate and professional and technical services.
According to Scott’s office, over the past year 41,100 new jobs were created in the Orlando area, followed by 28,000 in Tampa, 22,000 in Fort Lauderdale, 21,000 in Miami, 16,000 in Jacksonville, 11,000 in West Palm Beach, 4,200 in Naples and 3,600 in Pensacola.
In September, Monroe County had the state’s lowest unemployment rate (3.6 percent), followed by St. Johns (3.8 percent) and Franklin and Okaloosa (4.3 percent each). Hendry County had the highest unemployment rate (11.4 percent) followed by Hardee (8.6 percent) and Glades and Highlands counties (7.3 percent each). Hendry County was the only county with a double-digit unemployment rate for September and August.
–FlaglerLive and the News Service of Florida