Make us your home page

Florida leads country in job growth while unemployment rate dips to 10-year low

Florida's unemployment rate dropped in May to 4.3 percent. Pictured is a 2016 job fair at the Coliseum Ballroom in St. Petersburg. | [Scott Keeler, Times]

Florida's unemployment rate dropped in May to 4.3 percent. Pictured is a 2016 job fair at the Coliseum Ballroom in St. Petersburg. | [Scott Keeler, Times]

What economic slowdown?

Florida's unemployment rate fell for the third month in a row to hit an almost 10-year low as the state led the country in job creation, state officials reported Friday.

In adding nearly 30,000 jobs during May, Florida has moved closer to full employment, meaning a minimal likelihood of bigger rate drops in coming months, economists said.

Florida's unemployment rate dropped to 4.3 percent in May, down from 4.5 percent in April, to reach the lowest mark since August 2007.

Tampa Bay's unemployment rate remained steady, holding April's 3.8 percent. Hillsborough County's stayed at 3.7 percent from April to May, as did Pinellas at 3.6 percent and Hernando at 5 percent. Pasco dropped a tenth of a percentage point to 4.2 percent in May.

"Over the year, the Tampa area added more than 41,000 new jobs and led the state in job growth for several industries, which is great news," Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement.

Florida also added the second highest number of construction jobs of any state over the past year — 31,000. California created the most construction jobs for the same period: 38,900.

Business and professional services gained the most jobs across the state — 12,300 since April and 52,900 for the year. Leisure and hospitality, education and health services also added jobs.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Florida jobless rate drops to 4.5 percent as expanding companies scramble to find more workers

According to Chris McCarty, director of the University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research, the unemployment rate can go down for two reasons: either more people became employed, or more people left the labor force. This month, he said, it appears that more people became employed, lowering the unemployment rate.

"That decline is probably something that's pretty good," he said, but it's important to keep an eye on how Florida's labor force participation compares to the national rate. Both McCarty and PNC Financial economist Mekael Teshome expect the unemployment rate won't dip much further.

"We're pretty much at the low for Tampa, but it could get a little lower — closer to 4 percent," Teshome said. How much more it drops will be determined by how fast the workforce grows and how well businesses can fill the job openings they have.

"We've got a lot of momentum; it's just that a lot of people are entering the work force and not every job opening is being filled," Teshome said.

Tampa Bay added 7,000 jobs in May, totaling 43,000 since May 2016. Among major Florida metros, only Orlando had more job gains at 7,800 for the month and 48,000 since last year.

The job gains, however, didn't necessarily translate to bigger paychecks.

Typically, a stronger hiring environment leads to higher wages, UF's McCarty said. But that hasn't happened. That could be in part because of the shift toward gig economy jobs and part-time temporary jobs.

"The jobs that we've created are by and large not as good as the jobs we had before," he said.

Contact Malena Carollo at or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo on Twitter.

Florida leads country in job growth while unemployment rate dips to 10-year low 06/16/17 [Last modified: Saturday, June 17, 2017 12:14am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally


    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members


    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  3. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion


    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times


    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]