Make us your home page

Florida leads nation in job losses

Florida lost more jobs in November than any other state as the pain that started in home construction continued spreading to other parts of the economy.

The state's employment level fell by 58,600 workers from October, according to federal numbers released Friday. Florida's unemployment rate rose to 7.3 percent, the highest since June 1993 and well above the national rate of 6.7 percent for November.

That translates to 680,000 jobless Floridians out of a work force of 9.3-million. The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area shed 30,600 jobs in the past year as the unemployment rate hit 7.8 percent last month.

Hernando County is mired in the region's worst slump, with unemployment at 10.2 percent. That's the first double-digit rate for a Tampa Bay area county since September 1992.

A year ago, Florida's unemployment rate was 4.4 percent. Since then, Florida shed nearly 207,000 jobs, a third of them in construction.

"It's an unusual position Florida finds itself in with the weakest economy in the country,'' said Mark Vitner, senior economist with Wachovia Securities who tracks Florida. "The housing business is at the root of Florida's problems.''

North Carolina ranked behind Florida with 46,000 jobs lost between October and November. California was third with a drop of 41,700 jobs.

Six to eight months ago, Florida's job losses were limited to workers tied to home building, said Tyra Tutor, a senior vice president of MPS Group, a staffing company in Jacksonville.

"Areas that were immune — accounting, IT, engineering — have all begun to feel it,'' she said. "It's affecting everybody in every category."

A few sectors, such as government and institutions, are holding their own. Health care continues to grow, said Sean Snaith, an economist at the University of Central Florida. "You might put off buying a flat-screen TV,'' he said. "But if your appendix ruptures, you don't have much choice.''

Far more are suffering. Retailers will likely cut employment early next year as results from a dismal fourth quarter roll in, Snaith said. Tourism "is starting to show some cracks'' with the recession taking hold in England and Europe, key feeder markets for Florida, he said.

A proposed federal stimulus package to rebuild highways, bridges and other infrastructure might help. But it won't save Florida's home and commercial builders.

How long before the Sunshine State's job rolls grow again? The recession should last into the summer, with hiring picking up in early 2010, Vitner predicted.

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Steve Huettel can be reached at or (813) 226-3384.


Rates in percent
in November

'07 '08
Pinellas 4.3 7.5
Hillsborough 4.3 7.4
Pasco 5.3 8.9
Hernando 6.2 10.2

Source: Agency for Workforce Innovation

Florida leads nation in job losses 12/19/08 [Last modified: Friday, March 27, 2009 12:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Toxic' times: How repeal of Florida's tax on services reverberates, 30 years later

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Long before Hurricane Irma attacked Florida, the state faced a troubled fiscal future that the storm will only make worse.

    Robertson says the tax debate is now “toxic.”
  2. Fewer Tampa Bay homeowners are underwater on their mortgages

    Real Estate

    The percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners underwater on their mortgages continues to drop. In the second quarter of this year, 10.2 percent of borrowers had negative equity compared to nearly 15 percent in the same period a year ago, CoreLogic reported Thursday. Nationally, 5.4 percent of all mortgaged homes were …

    The percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners underwater on their mortgages  continues to drop. [Times file photo]
  3. 'What Happened'? Clinton memoir sold 300,000 copies in first week


    Despite being met with decidedly mixed reviews, What Happened, Hillary Clinton's new memoir about the 2016 presidential campaign, sold a whopping 300,000 copies in its first week.

    The new memoir by former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sold 300,000 copies in its first week.
  4. After Irma topples tree, home sale may be gone with the wind

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — To house hunters searching online, the home for sale in St. Petersburg's Shore Acres neighborhood couldn't have looked more appealing — fully renovated and shaded by the leafy canopy of a magnificent ficus benjamini tree.

    Hurricane Irma's winds recently blew over a large ficus tree, left, in the yard of a home at 3601Alabama Ave NE, right, in Shore Acres which is owned by Brett Schroder who is trying to sell the house.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  5. Unemployment claims double in Florida after Hurricane Irma


    The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped by 23,000 last week to 259,000 as the economic impact of Hurricane Harvey began to fade.

    Homes destroyed by Hurricane Irma on Big Pine Key last week. Hurricane Irma continued to have an impact on the job market in Florida, where unemployment claims more than doubled from the previous week.
[The New York Times file photo]