Flagler County’s post-recession unemployment rate hit a new low in April, at 5.1 percent, and now nearly matches the national unemployment rate of 5 percent. Flagler’s unemployment rate has fallen a full percentage point in a year, and is down from 8.3 percent two years ago.
The improving rate has been powered by a surge in Flagler residents holding jobs, though April’s numbers bucked that trend: 179 fewer people held jobs in April. The unemployment rate still went down from March’s rate of 5.4 percent because the labor force shrank by almost 300, to 43,969, though it remains stronger by 552 workers than it was a year ago.
The labor force reflects the underlying strength of the economy. It points to two significant indicators: the willingness of working-age individuals to move to the county, where they fell confident they can live and work, and the confidence by those who may have dropped out of the labor market to rejoin it. A growing labor force is also generally an indication of growth in family households, as opposed to retiree households, which had made up the bulk of the county’s population growth for several years after the recession.
The local unemployment rate is not seasonally adjusted. For Florida, the unemployment rate in April fell a decimal point from March, to 4.8 percent, with the net creation of 31,000 non-agricultural jobs, for a total of 254,000 new jobs over the year. Total employment in the state was 8.2 million, with unemployment at 472,000.
All but three sectors saw job gains over the month, with the biggest percentage gains in construction (4,500 new jobs), education and health services (6,000), leisure and hospitality (3,900) and retail (2,600). State and local governments also added almost 3,000 jobs. There were losses in federal government jobs (700), arts and entertainment (300) and company management (400).
Flagler’s unemployment rate places it in 14th place out of 67 counties, with Hendry’s 7 percent unemployment at the top, and Monroe’s 3 percent with the lowest unemployment. St. Johns County’s 3.4 percent is in third place.
Gog. Rick Scott announced today’s unemployment numbers in Orlando, where he said the city added 49,600 jobs over the year, after adding more jobs than all of Florida’s metro areas for the fourth consecutive month. “I was also excited to make today’s announcement at one of the many growing job creators in Florida, ODC Construction,” Scott said in a release. “ODC has created 400 jobs for local families and has more than tripled their workforce in just five years.”
The industries with the greatest job growth over the year in the Orlando area were leisure and hospitality with 12,900 new jobs; construction with 8,800 new jobs; and trade, transportation, and utilities with 8,100 new jobs. The Orlando area continues to have the second-highest job demand in Florida with 39,102 job openings, and the second-highest demand for high-wage, high-skill STEM occupations with 10,871 openings. STEM is the acronym for science, technology, engineering and math.