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Good NewsLevy unemployment rate down

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By The Staff

The news was good for job seekers in Levy County in March as the jobless rate dropped to 13.5 percent, down from February's rate of 14.2 percent.

That means out of 16,633 people in the civilian labor force, 14,390 were employed and 2,243 were unemployed.

It's the first good news on the county's job front since October 2009 when the rate was 12.4 percent. The county's unemployment rate has sat stubbornly above 12 percent since July 2009.

The news was equally good in surrounding counties as data released by the state Agency for Workforce Innovation and the Workforce Connection Region showed unemployment in Levy, Marion and Citrus counties went down from 15.1 percent to 14.6 percent from February to March. Alachua County's rate was 8.4 percent.

Citrus went from 14.6 in February to 13.9 in March, while Marion County improved with a decrease from 15.5 to 15 percent in the same period.

However not all the news is rosy as the three-county region's jobless rate is well above Florida's jobless rate of 12 percent and the U.S. rate of 10.2 percent.

Workforce Connection CEO Rusty Skinner said, “Today’s release shows some positive signs for our three-county area.  Unemployment is down in all three areas for the first time in many months.  Both the labor force and employment showed expansion, which indicates that this might be a turning point where unemployment reduction is not gained through worker withdrawal from the labor force/labor market, but expansion that is offering new job opportunities.”

He added, “I know that this is a positive sign for all of all our partners who have been working diligently to foster new job growth and opportunities.”