If economists alone were speaking, Flagler County could be said to be nearing full employment: about 10 years after the first rumbles of the Great Recession, the county’s unemployment rate in February fell to 5.4 percent, a level not seen since before the recession, and a level nearing what is generally recognized as full employment–when the number of jobs available roughly matches the number of job seekers, as zero unemployment is not considered realistic.
And in contrast with many previous monthly improvements in the unemployment rate, Flagler’s rate fell significantly despite a substantial increase in the labor force: The labor force grew by 270, but the number of Flagler County residents holding jobs surged by 472, one of the best single-month increases since the recession. That pushed the number of people without jobs down by 200 (to 2,390), keeping in mind that those are not necessarily full-time jobs: an employed person is defined as someone who’s worked as little as one hour in the previous month. But the net result is clear: employment is brisk.
Statewide, the revised unemployment rate had been stuck at 5.1 percent for three successive months until it fell two decimal points in February (though in the state’s press releases, each of the past four months represented a drop in the unemployment rate. The state achieves that magic by going on the preliminary rate first, the revising it month after month.) The state added a net 5,900 jobs in February, leaving 484,000 Floridians unemployed. Private-sector job growth, however, was tepid, at just 2,800–less than the 3,100 new jobs in federal, state and local government.
So there were no stand-out increases or decreases in any single sector of employment except for education services, which increased employment by 1.7 percent with 2,700 new jobs. Real estate employment increased by 1 percent, adding 1,900 jobs,
transportation, warehousing and utilities increased by 1.1 percent, or 3,100 jobs, and state government increased by 1 percent, with 2,000 new jobs. The largest proportional drops in employment were in arts, entertainment and recreason, which saw a 1.3 percent drop, or 2,900 jobs, and in non-durable goods, a 0.8 percent drop that represented 900 jobs.
The full report is below.