Sunday, February 18, 2018
Business

Florida unemployment rate unchanged at 5.7 percent

Florida's unemployment rate stood at 5.7 percent in January, unchanged from December, according to figures released Tuesday.

The state added 13,900 jobs over the month and is now up nearly 275,000 jobs from January 2014.

Gov. Rick Scott, as customary, focused on private-sector job creation rather than overall jobs, noting that Florida has added more than 800,000 nongovernment jobs since he took office in December 2010. Florida saw a huge drop in government jobs during the recession and during a government-shrinking push by Scott in the initial years of his first term. But the state has since been adding government jobs, including 5,400 over the past year.

As a backdrop for Tuesday's announcement, Scott went to the Ellenton headquarters of Feld Entertainment, which moved its production company's base from Virginia to Florida in 2012.

"Florida's exceptional economic turnaround makes it clear that we are enacting policies to help businesses grow and giving families opportunities to achieve their dreams in Florida," he said in prepared remarks.

Scott pledged to keep working to cut taxes and said he looked forward to his trip to California next month "to tell shippers that Florida is the best place for business and why they should move here."

The Tampa Bay region's unemployment rate rose from 5.3 percent to 5.7 percent in January. Among bay area counties, Hillsborough and Pinellas continued to be the strongest performers; both had 5.5 percent unemployment. Citrus County posted the third-highest jobless rate in the state (8.1 percent), even trumping long-suffering Hernando County, which was at 7.5 percent.

Estimates for metro areas and counties tend to fluctuate more because, unlike state and national data, they aren't seasonally adjusted. So unemployment often rises after the holiday shopping season ends and retailers cut back on staffing.

Tampa Bay has added 32,900 jobs year over year, third best among 24 Florida metro areas and trailing only Miami-Miami Beach and Orlando-Kissimmee, which were both up by 42,900 jobs.

At the start of every year, there is a long lag in reporting January data as the government recal­ibrates state figures for the prior year using data from employer tax returns, which indicate the number of workers for which an employer paid unemployment insurance taxes. During the year, the monthly estimate for the unemployment rate and jobs created or lost in various categories are drawn from surveys.

As a result, Florida has not released a jobs report in two months. But it's trying to catch up quickly. The state intends to release its February jobs report on March 27.

The national unemployment rate also stood at 5.7 percent in January and fell to 5.5 percent in February.

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