Make us your home page
Instagram

Jobs numbers not improving, but officials say there's hope

While the latest numbers may point to a rosier statewide employment picture, the same isn't so for Hernando County, where the February jobless rate rose to 8.6 percent, according to the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What had been a slowly improving trend began turning worse in January, when the unemployment jumped from a five-year low of 7.6 percent in December to 8.4 percent. The latest figures put the county fourth-highest in the state in unemployment behind Hendry, Flagler, Hamilton and Putnam counties.

Florida's 6.2 percent unemployment rate fell to its lowest point since June 2008 as the state added 30,000 jobs in February. Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate for February fell to 6.7 percent.

Dave Hamilton, program manager with the Pasco-Hernando Workforce Board, said the new data shows that the overall employment picture in Hernando County is less optimistic than it had been. The numbers reflect what is known as "benchmarking," a process the Department of Economic Opportunity uses to adjust the formula for counting unemployment statistics. Those adjustments show Hernando County was in more dire economic shape than originally reported.

For example, while the department originally listed Hernando's unemployment rate in January 2013 at 9.7 percent, it has since been adjusted to 10.3 percent.

"We're still better than a year ago, but we're far from being healthy," Hamilton said. "The upward trend we saw in the last quarter (of 2013) hasn't continued into the first quarter (of 2014). We're still in stagnation."

Hamilton said his agency's own statistics show that 1,000 more people entered the county's overall workforce in February. However, the new data shows the number of unemployed people rose by 800.

As has been the trend, Hernando's greatest job gains recently have been in the health care field and service industries such as retail and hospitality, something Hamilton considers a double-edge sword.

"Medical jobs tend to be steadier and have a higher wage, but the same isn't true for the service industry," he said.

Attracting new jobs to the county remains something of a wait-and-see game where not everything is apt to pan out. An example was the hoped-for major expansion this year of Accuform Signs that would have nearly doubled its present workforce of 300. A change in company plans has put the project on hold.

However, County Administrator Len Sossamon said that while the Accuform announcement was disappointing, a number of prospects are in the works that could brighten the county's future employment picture.

He cited the recent decision by Baker Parts, a Massachusetts company that refurbishes and manufactures industrial baking equipment, which recently signed a lease on a 24,000-square-foot facility at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport and Technology Center with plans to bring 30 jobs to the county over the next three years.

While the Baker announcement is not on the scale of Accuform's original expansion plans, Sossamon believes the county's continuing goal to lure light manufacturing and high-tech industry will pay dividends as time goes along.

"There are big steps, and there are small steps and inroads," he said. "In another year, things will be much better. We're bringing the jobs here."

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1435.

By the numbers

8.4% Hernando County's unemployment rate in January, the fourth-highest in the state.

7.6% The county's jobless rate in December, which had been on a slowly improving trend for most of 2013.

6.2% Florida's jobless rate in February, the state's lowest rate since June 2008.

6.7% The nat-ional unemployment rate in February.

1,000 Number of people who entered the county's workforce in February.

800 Increase in the county's number of people jobless in February.

Jobs numbers not improving, but officials say there's hope 04/02/14 [Last modified: Friday, April 4, 2014 8:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  2. Miami woman, 74, admits to voter fraud. Does jail await, or will she go free?

    State Roundup

    MIAMI — An 74-year-old woman pleaded guilty Monday to filling out other people's mail-in ballots while working at Miami-Dade's elections department.

    Gladys Coego
  3. Bigger ships carry Georgia ports to record cargo volumes

    Economic Development

    SAVANNAH, Ga. — Bigger ships arriving through an expanded Panama Canal pushed cargo volumes at Georgia's seaports to record levels in fiscal 2017, the Georgia Ports Authority announced Monday.

    The Port of Savannah moved a record 3.85 million container units in fiscal 2017, the state said, benefiting from the larger ships that can now pass through an expanded Panama Canal.
  4. Dragon ride in Harry Potter section of Universal closing for new themed ride

    Florida

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019 — sending wizard fans into a guessing game with hopes for a Floo Powder Network or the maze from the Triwizard Tournament.

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge on Sept. 5 for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019. The ride, originally the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, was renamed and incorporated into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the hugely popular area opened in 2010.
  5. Would you let your company implant a chip in you?

    Working Life

    Would you ask an employee to get a chip implanted in her hand? Sounds invasive and intrusive. But come Aug. 1, one company in Wisconsin will be giving it a try.

    Three Square Market - a developer of software used in vending machines - is offering all of its employees the option to get a microchip implanted between the thumb and forefinger. [Photo from video]