Make us your home page

Florida unemployment drops; Tampa Bay leads state in job growth

Tampa Bay led the state in new hires last month as Florida's job market brightened, with the state's unemployment rate dipping to its lowest point in four years.

About 10,000 jobs were added locally last month, sinking Tampa Bay's jobless rate from 8 percent to 7.4 percent in one month, state data released Friday show.

With 33,000 jobs added since February 2012, Tampa Bay's year-over-year job growth bested every metro area in the state.

Work forces swelled in every local county, including hard-hit Hernando, where last month's unemployment rate was more than 3 percentage points below where it was a year ago.

"The Tampa to Orlando corridor will be an important one when it comes to job growth," University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith said. "This bodes well for the future of the region. But we still have a lot of ground to make up."

The state added 7,800 jobs last month as unemployment sunk to 7.7 percent, down from January's revised rate of 7.9 percent. Florida has extended its year-over-year hiring gains to 31 months in a row.

Gov. Rick Scott said Friday in Orlando that efforts to cut taxes and pay down state debt were paying off.

With "nearly 300,000 private sector jobs created over the last two years, we have proof that it's working," Scott said.

State unemployment has not been this low since October 2008, when it was 7.4 percent. But of the state's 9.4 million-strong labor force, 729,000 remain out of work. In a typical healthy economy, Florida's jobless rate would fall below 6 percent.

The unemployment rate doesn't count the thousands of Floridians who have stopped looking for work. Though the Sunshine State gained 217,000 adults over the last year, data show, the labor force gained only 92,000 jobs.

Many of those now sitting on the sidelines could start looking for work again, dragging down the recovering job market.

About 10,000 jobs were added in Tampa Bay last month, though 100,000 remained out of work.

Local numbers, which are not tweaked for seasonal changes, are regarded as less reliable than the state's seasonally adjusted figures.

The lion's share of new Florida jobs were in leisure and hospitality, though retailers, health care and professional services like accounting and technical consulting also gained thousands of jobs.

Workplaces with the biggest gains in new jobs last month included colleges and universities, tax preparation offices, and amusement parks and arcades.

Courier and messenger firms and stores selling sporting goods, books and music, counted the highest rates of job losses last month. About 11,000 government jobs have been cut since last February.

Drew Harwell can be reached at or (727) 893-8252.

County-by-county jobless rates

RegionFebruary 2013January 2013Febuary 2012
Hendry (high)10.811.412.5
Monroe (low)
Tampa Bay7.489.4

Note: State and national numbers are seasonally adjusted,

while county and Tampa Bay numbers are not.

Source: Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

Florida unemployment drops; Tampa Bay leads state in job growth 03/29/13 [Last modified: Friday, March 29, 2013 9:31pm]
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]