Make us your home page


Robert Trigaux

If economy is improving, why is Florida jobless rate rising again?



joblinetampaencoreprojectjohnpendygraft.jpgWake up and good morning. What's this? Florida's unemployment rate went up again last month? To 11.9 percent in September, up a notch from the revised 11.8 percent in August? What about the "slow improvement" in the economy? What does it mean for Florida that our jobless rate is rising, not falling?

(Photo: Long lines seeking work earlier this year in Tampa for the Encore housing project. By John Pendygraft, St. Petersburg Times.)

The jobless increase, albeit tiny over August, is a bit misleading. Florida has added 27,200 jobs in the past year at the same time that more people have started looking for work -- thus raising the unemployment number even as more jobs have been created.

Here are the industries adding jobs in the past year:
* Private education and health services (+39,200 jobs, +3.7 percent).
* Professional and business services (+15,400 jobs, +1.5 percent).
* Trade, transportation, and utilities (+13,600 +0.9 percent).
* Leisure and hospitality (+2,800 jobs, +0.3 percent).
* Other services (+2,200 jobs, +0.7 percent).

And there are the industries still losing jobs in the past year:
* Financial activities (-11,500 jobs, -2.4 percent).
* Construction (-10,700 jobs, -2.9 percent).
* Manufacturing (-9,600 jobs, -3.1 percent).
* Total government (-8,100 jobs, -0.7 percent).
* And information (-6,000 jobs, -4.3 percent).

Now take a look at how some major metro area's September jobless rates in Florida. And look how many jobs each area's gained/lost in the past month (September vs. August) and over the last year:

* Tampa Bay (12.4 percent unemployed): Gained 3,700 jobs in last month but lost 2,400 -- more than any other metro area in the state -- in past year. Read more here.
* Orlando (11.8 percent unemployed): Lost 1,800 jobs in last month but gained 100 jobs in past year. Read more here.
* Miami-Fort Lauderdale (12.1 percent unemployed): Gained, 8,100 jobs in last month and gained 2,700 jobs in past year. Read more here.
* Jacksonville (11.5 percent unemployed): Gained 200 jobs in last month but lost 700 jobs in past year.
* Sarasota (Northport-Bradenton) (12.6 percent unemployed): Lost 300 jobs in last month but gained 100 jobs in past year. Read more here.

Then there's Gainesville, home to the University of Florida, and apparently some formula for fighting this recession better than most of the state metro areas. Gainesville's unemployment rate is a startlingly low 8.3 percent. In the past month it gained 4,900 jobs and in the past year gained 900 jobs. Bravo in tough times.

Now look at Florida's unemployment situation versus some of the other states in the country. Florida was among 11 states where unemployment increased in September compared to 23 states that showed improvement

* Florida's 11.9 jobless rate is 4th highest in the country after Nevada (14.4 percent), Michigan (13.0 percent), California (12.4 percent).

* A key indicator, Florida ranks 48th among the 50 states and Washington, DC, for the increase in its jobless rate (to 11.9 from 11.2 percent or 0.7 percentage point) over the past year. Only Utah (up 0.8 percentage point), Montana (up 0.9 percentage point) and Nevada (up a whopping 1.7 percentage points) fared worse. Here's more on the national state-vs-state outlook from USA Today.

Here's Florida's state labor data from the Agency for Workforce Innovation.

Florida's unemployment rate peaked in March at 12.3 percent, the highest since the federal government began compiling jobless statistics in the 1970s. The state's healthiest employment figures were in May 2006 when only 3.3 percent of the workforce was idled.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist


[Last modified: Monday, October 25, 2010 7:30am]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours