What a difference two years makes.
Two years ago the Levy County unemployment rate for January was 13 percent, the highest it had been for the county since April 2008 when it was 5.2 percent and started growing.
In November 2008 it hit 8.9 percent and kept moving up until two years ago.
On Friday it was announced the December's unemployment figure for Levy County was 8.6 percent, down by 0.2 percent from November, and while that figure was virtually unchanged from November's figure, the good news is that unemployment is down by 2 percent from one year ago and down from 11.4 percent in December 2010.
Workforce Connection reported the regional unemployment rate for Levy, Marion and Citrus counties in December was also 8.9 percent, down 0.3 percent from November and down 2.5 percent compared to December 2011. Out of a labor force of 206,848 there were 18,476 jobless, a drop of 508 over the month and 4,963 fewer than the same time last year.
The state's jobless rate for December 2012 was 7.9 percent in December, down 0.1 percent, and the national unemployment rate was 7.6 percent, up 0.2 percent.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO)reported unemployment was 8.9 percent in Marion County, down 0.3 percent over the month and 9.1 percent in Citrus County, down 0.1 percent from November.
Indicators varied across each county. Citrus County experienced declines in the size of its labor force and number of those working as well as a drop in the number of unemployed; Levy County remained virtually unchanged over the month, with very slight shrinkage of its labor force, employed and unemployed.
Levy County’s labor force fell by 55 since November 2012 to 16,818, employment fell slightly by 14 to 15,373 and the number of unemployed declined by four to 1,445. Over the year, the labor force has remained virtually the same, expanding by 92, the number of employed increased by 261 and the number of unemployed dropped by 353 from 1,798.
Workforce Connection’s Chief Operating Officer Kathleen Woodring said, “This is good news as we embark on 2013.”
“The past months’ strong collaborative effort in this community – among workforce, economic development, businesses, education partners and others — has built a good foundation that will hopefully lead to continued growth in our economy,” she said.
Woodring also noted that last month, 515 employers posted 1,454 open positions. That represented a 32 percent increase in the number of employers posting job openings compared to December 2011 as well as a 64.5-percent increase over-the-year in the number of open job orders. Workforce Connection closed out the year with 10,465 job placements.
According to Rebecca Rust, DEO’s chief economist said the Workforce Connection region is not alone as all 67 counties had declines in unemployment rate over the year.
Six major industries gained jobs over the year, led by trade, transportation and utilities (+1,300 jobs for a 6.4 percent growth rate); education and health services and leisure and hospitality (+600 jobs each); professional services (+300 jobs); and manufacturing and other services (+100 each).
Government and mining, logging and construction lost jobs over the year (-100 jobs each). Information and financial activities remained unchanged over the year.
DEO’s Rust said that among positive signs statewide is that there continues to be a drop in number of job losers – those laid off – from 53.5 percent to 52.2 percent as well as increases in the number of job departures – those who voluntarily leave jobs – from 7.7 percent to 8.0 percent and the number re-entrants to the job market, from 27 percent to 29.2 percent.
Rust said that shows confidence that job seekers believe they will find work or better jobs.
Rust cited a number of additional signs of improvement in Florida’s economic conditions, including:
• Florida’s unemployment rate was down 1.9 percentage points from the December
2011 rate of 9.9 percent. It was the 25th consecutive month of over-the-year declines
in Florida’s unemployment rate.
• The current unemployment rate was down 3.4 percentage points from the last
recession peak rate of 11.4 percent reached in January and February 2010 and was
the lowest rate since November 2008.
• Florida’s annual job growth rate has been positive for the past 29 months. Prior to
this, the state had been losing jobs for three years.
• Florida’s online job ads were up 8.0 percent over the year.
• Initial claims for Reemployment Assistance were down 4.6 percent from a year ago.
• Florida housing starts were up 48.8 percent over the year, reaching a level of 3,478 in
• Florida median home prices were up 11.2 percent over the year.
• Taxable sales were $25.2 billion in October (preliminary), an increase of 7.5 percent
over the year.
• December tax revenue (not seasonally adjusted) was up 5.9 percent compared to a
year ago. This marked the 33rd straight month of annual increases.