Florida and Flagler County’s unemployment numbers for June have a bright side: the state’s unemployment rate fell two decimal points to 5.5 percent, and Flagler’s fell three decimal points, to 6.3 percent. And if you donl;t count agricultural jobs, the state added a net 7,000 jobs.
But agriculture is a mainstay of Florida’s–and Flagler’s–economy. And when all jobs are counted, the state in June lost 47,000 jobs overall, and Flagler lost 190. The unemployment rate went down for state and county because the labor force in each case shrunk by even larger numbers: in Florida, it shrunk by a very significant 79,000 people, and in Flagler it shrank by 325.
With the labor force shrinking at twice the rate of job losses, the net result is a decline in the unemployment rate. But jobs are not being created: in Flagler, 190 fewer people were employed in June than were employed in May, for a total of 40,093. The labor force in the county fell to 42,804, a decline of 778 compared to a year ago.
The numbers for Flagler and Florida area reflection of demographic trends. The state is adding to its population: in June, there were 22,000 more people 16 years old and older in Florida, and for the past 12 months, the state has added 263,000 people in that category. Yet the state’s civilian labor force has actually shrunk by 2,000 over the year. The reason: people moving into Florida and Flagler County are older people who have left the labor force.
So while Gov. Rick Scott was touring the creation of 12,000 “private-sector jobs” at a stop in Orlando today–a figure that masks the loss of 5,200, relatively higher-paying government jobs, especially at the local government level–he steered clear of more relevant contrasts between Florida’s and the national economy. Florida’s unemployment rate still lags the nation’s by two decimal points. More importantly, the nation has resumed robust, net job creation, adding a net 2.5 million jobs in the past 12 months alone, one of the best job-creation performances since the late 1990s. It’s a 1.7 percent improvement. But it did so without Florida’s help. In Florida, net employment increased by just 55,000, a 0.6 percent increase.
Most of Florida’s new jobs since the Recession have been low-paying service sector jobs, and many have been part-time: if a person logs a single hour or work in a two-week period, that person is considered employed. Florida’s underemployment rate also remains one of the highest in the nation. That rate, calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, counts the unemployed, the discouraged–ho have stopped looking for work–and those who work part-time because they cannot find full-time work, or because their hours have been cut back. They are the so-called involuntary part-time workers. That unemployment and underemployment rate in Florida stands at 12.3 percent, compared to 11.6 percent for the nation.
Job gains for the month took place mostly in the service sector, including education, health services, tourism and hospitality and transportation. There were losses in professional and technical services, information and government.,