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. At Menorah Manor, planning paid off during Irma

    Nursing Homes

    ST. PETERSBURG — Doris Rosenblatt and her husband, Frank, have lived in Florida all of their lives, so they know about hurricanes.

    Raisa Collins, 9, far left, works on a craft project as Certified Nursing Assistant Shuntal Anthony holds Cassidy Merrill, 1, while pouring glue for Quanniyah Brownlee, 9, right, at Menorah Manor in St. Petersburg on Sept. 15. To help keep its patients safe during Hurricane Irma, Menorah Manor allowed employees to shelter their families and pets at the nursing home and also offered daycare through the week. The facility was able to accommodate and feed everyone who weathered the storm there. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  2. After Irma, nursing homes scramble to meet a hard deadline

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida's nursing homes and assisted-living facilities find themselves in an unfamiliar place this week — pushing back against Gov. Rick Scott's administration over new rules that require them to purchase generator capacity by Nov. 15 to keep their residents safe and comfortable in a power …

    In this Sept. 13 photo, a woman is transported from The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills as patients are evacuated after a loss of air conditioning due to Hurricane Irma in Hollywood. Nine have died and patients had to be moved out of the facility, many of them on stretchers or in wheelchairs. Authorities have launched a criminal investigation to figure out what went wrong and who, if anyone, was to blame. [Amy Beth Bennett | South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP]
  3. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst


    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  4. Three-hour police standoff ends, thanks to a cigarette


    TAMPA — A man threatening to harm himself was arrested by Tampa police on Tuesday after a three-hour standoff.

  5. Another Hollywood nursing home resident dies. It's the 9th in post-Irma tragedy.

    State Roundup

    The Broward County Medical Examiner's office is investigating another death of a resident of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills — the ninth blamed on the failure of a cooling system that became a stifling deathtrap three days after Irma hit.

    Carlos Canal, pictured at 47 years old, came to Miami from Cuba in 1960. Above is his citizenship photo. [Courtesy of Lily Schwartz]