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Robert Trigaux

Keeping perspective: Florida's treading water on jobs but doing better than more and more states




Job fairs have become commonplace across Tampa Bay in recent years, just like this past one at the Coliseum in St. Petersburg. Photo: Melissa Lyttle, Tampa Bay Times.

Wake up and good morning. The latest monthly jobless rate in Florida -- still stuck in August at 8.8 percent with thousands of residents leaving the workforce -- is disheartening and reinforces the notion that the Sunshine State's economy is treading water more than recovering. Read the latest Tampa Bay Times story for more detail.

There's not much to crow about. But it is important to keep perspective on monthly numbers. What if I told you Florida in August generated more jobs than any other state except Texas? It's true and from that point of view Florida looks more resilient than most of the nation, right? Florida created 23,200 jobs in August, second only to Texas at 38,000. So, if the country as a whole is struggling to create jobs, Florida's not doing as badly as we might think. (Missouri followed at No. 3 with 17,900 created jobs.)

Another perspective to keep in mind. Florida's unemployment may be stuck at 8.8 percent, but plenty of other states have higher jobless rates now. In August, the following 13 states had higher unemployment rates than Florida, listed starting with the highest, Nevada (12 percent) followed by Rhode Island (10.7), California (10.6), New Jersey (9.9), North Carolina (9.7), South Carolina (9.6), Michigan (9.4), Georgia (9.2) and Illinois, New York and Mississippi tied (9.1), Connecticut (9.0), and Oregon (8.9).

Not so long ago Florida typically ranked among the top three states in jobless rates.

One final angle to unemployment to consider. Florida's jobless rate fell to 8.8 percent from 10.5 percent in the past year for an annual decline of 1.7 percentage points. Only one state, Mississippi, registered a bigger one-year decline (1.8 percentage points) and its jobless rate in August was 9.1 percent. After that, Florida tied with Nevada and the District of Columbia with a -1.7 percentage point drop in its jobless rate.

Heck, New York's jobless rate increased in the past year by 0.8 percentage point from 8.3 to 9.1 percent. Ouch.

A final observation. Over the course of the last year (August 2011-August 2012), Florida's created 77,800 jobs. Only the much larger states of California (up 298,700) and Texas (up 259,500), and rebounding Ohio (up 98,300) created more jobs in that period.

So take heart. It's not as gloomy as it might seem -- at least when compared to many states. One interesting sidelight from this Bloomberg story: August's jobless rate rose in five of 10 states considered battlegrounds in this presidential election less than two months before voters head to the polls.

Read more job-related details about all 50 states in this latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times


[Last modified: Monday, September 24, 2012 7:21am]


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