Flagler County’s unemployment for December was revised downward to 13.5 percent, from 13.9 percent, and the county’s January unemployment remained at that level, Florida’s labor department announced this morning, but Flagler is keeping its distinction as the state with the highest unemployment in the state. Florida’s unemployment fell to 9.6 percent. The national unemployment rate is at 8.3 percent.
But Flagler and Florida both lost jobs between December and January. Florida’s employment rolls fell by 38,000, the first such drop in almost a year. Far fewer people are actively looking for work in Florida. Gov. Rick Scott’s administration downplayed the report, foregoing the usual high-profile announcements.
Flagler’s 13.5 percent rate is the lowest since the 11.8 percent rate in December 2008. But job creation is not the reason. The county had 904 fewer people employed in January, compared with December, with total employment falling from 29,407 in December to 28,504. The labor force also shrank significantly, from 33,984 in December to 32,966 in January, a drop of 1,018, or 3 percent. Jobs normally decrease from December to January as retailers shed holiday staffing. The year-over-year drop (from January 2011 to January 2012) is less than half that number, at 476. The number nevertheless suggests that the trend of the last couple of years isn’t reversing: the county is not adding population, and may be shedding it.
Most job sectors saw declines in Florida, led by education and health services (a decline of 11,000), government (a loss of 8,100 jobs, including 5,200 jobs in local governments), trade and transportation (6,200 jobs lost), construction (6,200 jobs lost) and professional and technical services (7,300 jobs lost). In percentage terms, education and health services, followed by construction, were the leading sectors losing jobs.
There were slight gains in information (1,800 jobs), finance (1,900), and hotels and food establishments (5,500).
Hernando County has the second-worst unemployment rate in the state, at 12.8 percent, followed by four counties with an 11.8 percent unemployment rate–St. Lucie, Putnam, Hendry and Dixie.
Monroe had the lowest unemployment rate, at 5.7 percent, followed by Okaloosa and Walton, both at 6.9 percent. St. Johns County is among the healthier counties in the state, with an unemployment rate of 8 percent. Volusia County’s rate is at 10 percent.