Jobless rate in Levy down to 8.8 percent

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Levy County’s rate of unemployment was 8.8 percent in October, a rate not seen since November 2008 when the area’s unemployment started a steady rise due to the recession.

That was a drop of 0.6 percent from September’s unemployment rate according to CLM Workforce Connection.

Workforce Connection of Citrus, Levy and Marion counties reported the good news on Friday, Nov. 17, including the three county unemployment that dropped to 9.1 percent in October, down 0.7 percent from September’s rate and down 2.6 percent from one year ago. Out of a labor force of 209,706 in the three counties, there were 19,128 jobless, a drop of 1,378 over the month and 5,280 fewer than one year ago. The number of employed in the region in October increased by 963 to 190,578.

 Neighboring Marion County’s unemployment in October was 9.1 percent, , down 0.7 percent and 9.2 percent in Citrus County, down 0.7 percent.

Florida’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.2 percent in October, down 0.4 percent, and the national unemployment rate was 7.5 percent.

 That’s the lowest unemployment rate since October 2008 in Marion County, when the rate was 8.9 percent and since November 2008 in Citrus and Levy counties, when the unemployment rates were 9.0 and 8.9 percent respectively.

 Workforce Connection CEO Rusty Skinner said that while the total labor force for the region fluctuated slightly in October, the good news is that more people are working.

 “The fact that more people are finding work in a recovering economy is certainly important,” Skinner said. “And the percentage reduction in the number of unemployed, as well as the fact that this percentage reflects real numbers of people returning to work, is also a continuation of the positive trends that we have seen for the past two months.”

 Skinner credits much of the progress in the region to the continued efforts of economic development and business partners.  Skinner points out that in October, 562 employers posted 1,574 jobs with Workforce Connection, representing a 55.5-percent increase in employers over the year and a 107 percent spike in job openings.

 Here is how employment numbers break down for each county:

 • Levy County’s labor force rose by 60 to 17,132, employment is up by 155 jobs to 15,628 and the number of unemployed fell by 95 to 1,504. In October 2011, there were 1,848 jobless.

• Citrus County’s labor force dropped slightly by 125 over the month to 56,861, the number of employed rose by 281 to 51,645 and those without jobs dropped by 406 to 5,216.  One year ago, there were 6,495 unemployed.

• Marion County’s labor force shrank by 350 to 135,713, while the number of those with jobs increased by 527 to 123,305 and those unemployed dropped by 877 to 12,408. During the same time last year, there were 16,065 without jobs.

According to DEO, all 67 counties had declines in their unemployment rate over the year, while 66 counties had declines in their unemployment rates over the month.

Among Florida’s counties, Marion County’s unemployment rate ranked 14th, Citrus County dropped to 13th, and Levy County dropped to 21st. 

Seven major industries gained jobs over the year, led by education and health services (+700 jobs); leisure and hospitality (+500 jobs each); trade, transportation and utilities, and professional and business services (+300 jobs each); and manufacturing, financial activities, and other services (+100 each).

Two industries that lost jobs over the year were mining, logging, and construction (-200 jobs) and government (-100 jobs). Information remained unchanged over the year.

Rebecca Rust, DEO’s chief economist, said that among positive signs statewide is that there continues to be a drop in number of job losers – those laid off – as well as an increase in the number of job leavers, or those who leave jobs voluntarily. 

“That’s certainly positive, I think we can say with some confidence we’ve seen some improvement,” Rust said, adding that there was also an increase in the percentage of new entrants to the job market.

Rust cited a number of additional signs of improvement in Florida’s economic conditions, including:

• Florida’s unemployment rate was down 1.7 percentage points from the October 2011 rate of 10.2 percent. It was the 23nd consecutive month of over-the-year declines in Florida’s unemployment rate.

• The current unemployment rate was down 2.9 percentage points from the last recession peak rate of 11.4 percent reached in January and February 2010 and was the lowest rate since December 2008. 

• Florida’s annual job growth rate has been positive for the past 27 months.  Prior to this, the state had been losing jobs for three years.

• Florida’s online job ads were up 11.9 percent over the year.

• Initial claims for Reemployment Assistance were down 7.3 percent from a year ago. 

• Florida housing starts were up 29.3 percent over the year, reaching a level of 3,529 in September 2012.

• Florida median home prices were up 7.4 percent over the year. 

• Taxable sales were $26.9 billion in September (preliminary), an increase of 7.4 percent over the year.

• October tax revenue (seasonally adjusted) was up 5.4 percent compared to a year ago.  This marked the 31st straight month of annual increases.