Monday, February 19, 2018
Business

Florida unemployment rises to 6.3 percent

Florida's jobs market took a spring swoon, but not enough to derail expectations of a continued recovery.

The unemployment rate in May rose slightly from 6.2 percent to 6.3 percent as the state lost a substantial 17,900 jobs, the steepest drop in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Year over year, though, Florida still has 218,800 more jobs, up 2.9 percent, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday.

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, saw its jobless rate jump from 5.9 percent to 6.2 percent as it lost 5,900 jobs.

A year ago, Tampa Bay was leading the state among metros in job creation. Now, with 22,700 jobs created year-over-year, it ranks fourth behind Orlando, Miami-Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Jacksonville, up 21,000 jobs since last May, is nipping at its heels.

Economists tracking Florida widely dismissed the May numbers as an off month that should not hamper the state's slow recovery.

Mekael Teshome, PNC Bank's Florida economist, dubbed the dip "statistical noise."

"In the overall fundamentals, Florida's economy is gaining momentum," Teshome said.

The news marks an abrupt reversal from April when the state created more jobs than any single month in the past three years. The addition of 34,000 jobs that month helped knock down the unemployment rate, offsetting a surge of discouraged job seekers who had returned to the labor pool.

"This really looks like a payback from the later Easter that boosted leisure and hospitality payrolls in April," said Mark Vitner, senior economist with Wells Fargo.

University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith echoed that thought, noting that roughly half the job losses in May were tied to seasonal tourism jobs.

"Frozen, both the movie and the physical state of many in the northern U.S., boosted the number of tourists visiting Florida in the first four months of the year," Snaith said. "This caused a surge of hiring in the leisure and hospitality sector that has been partially reversed by the spring thaw, resulting in a loss of 10,500 jobs in the sector this May."

The decrease, he noted, came after a gain of 30,100 seasonal jobs in the first four months of the year.

Scott Brown, chief economist with Raymond James Financial in St. Petersburg, said his concern is not that Florida won't keep creating jobs in the months ahead, but the quality of those positions.

"You're still not seeing a lot of wage growth and that's the fuel for consumer spending," he said. "The typical worker is still running as fast as they can and staying in the same spot."

Meanwhile, assets like stock market portfolios continue to climb. "It's a really good time to be in the top 10th of a percent," he said.

Because Florida is skewed toward adding lower-paying jobs in retail, leisure and home health care, it's dragging down what could be a much stronger economic picture, said Teshome of PNC. "It won't send us going backward, but it prevents us from leaping forward as fast as we could."

Shortly after the state posted the jobs news online, Gov. Rick Scott issued a news release that downplayed the drop in jobs and did not mention the increase in the unemployment rate in May.

Rather, he zeroed in on the long-term story.

"Long-term trends demonstrate that Florida's poised for success," Scott said. "Private sector job trends have been on the rise for over three years, our unemployment rate has declined or remained steady for 43 of the last 45 months, and for the fifth month in a row our labor force has grown. Florida's had an amazing turnaround, and we have to continue working every day to create jobs for families."

Jeff Harrington can be reached at (813) 226-3434 or [email protected]

Comments
The small gun shop that sold the weapon to the alleged high school shooter ‘closes indefinitely.’

The small gun shop that sold the weapon to the alleged high school shooter ‘closes indefinitely.’

The aftermath of the horrific mass shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has led to the closure of one small business.According to the Miami Herald, the owners of Sunrise Tactical Supply, the Coral Springs, Florida shop that auth...
Updated: 1 hour ago
St. Petersburg set to rename main library after President Obama

St. Petersburg set to rename main library after President Obama

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman is set to announce that the city’s main library will be renamed after former President Barack Obama.The announcement that the facility will be renamed after the nation’s first African-American president has been t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
More than 20 unlicensed contractors arrested after Pinellas sting

More than 20 unlicensed contractors arrested after Pinellas sting

DUNEDIN –– More than 20 unlicensed contractors offered to perform home repairs the past few days, but they didn’t know Pinellas County deputies waited with handcuffs to arrest them. At 11 a.m., Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri will announce deta...
Updated: 3 hours ago
On deck in Rays ballpark quest: Tampa Bay’s business community

On deck in Rays ballpark quest: Tampa Bay’s business community

TAMPA — Columbia Restaurant owner Richard Gonzmart says he’s ready to put his checkbook where his heart is when it comes to supporting a Tampa Bay Rays move to Ybor City.So is the investment fund for the founding family of Ashley Furniture. So, it ap...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Next phase for the Tampa Armature Works: co-working office space

Next phase for the Tampa Armature Works: co-working office space

TAMPA — The mixed-use rebirth of the old Tampa Armature Works warehouse is proceeding in stages. First up: last month’s debut of the new ballroom, followed closely by the opening of more than a dozen vendors in the Heights Public Market food hall.YEA...
Published: 02/19/18

Open-mic night at Pilars is a hot spot for Disney talent

WINTER GARDEN — At the end of the day, when the tourists are gone, Disney performers head out to their favorite spot to keep on singing after their shifts are over. Every Thursday, they perform at open-mic night at Pilars, a Winter Garden martini bar...
Published: 02/18/18
Here’s how to separate the fund raisers from frauds among gofundme pages

Here’s how to separate the fund raisers from frauds among gofundme pages

Gofundme.com pages proliferated almost as soon as cops took Nikolas Cruz into custody after Wednesday’s 17-death massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Donors must parse the funding pages from the fraudulent.Read More: 17 dead,...
Published: 02/18/18
Suffolk tops off Manor Riverwalk project

Suffolk tops off Manor Riverwalk project

Building contractor Suffolk topped off the north tower of its Manor Riverwalk project on Friday.The luxury rental community will replace the old Tampa Tribune building at 202 S Parker Street. Once complete, the project will include an eight-story wat...
Published: 02/16/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Trump administration recommends stiff penalties on steel, aluminum imports

Trump administration recommends stiff penalties on steel, aluminum imports

The Tampa arm of Brazilian steelmaker Gerdau S.A. was cautiously optimistic Friday after the Trump administration took a big step toward a policy Gerdau has been vocally advocating for — higher tariffs on imported steel. "We’re hopeful that President...
Published: 02/16/18
Facebook forges ahead with kids app despite expert criticism

Facebook forges ahead with kids app despite expert criticism

Associated PressNEW YORK — Facebook is forging ahead with its messaging app for kids, despite child experts who have pressed the company to shut it down and others who question Facebook’s financial support of some advisers who approved of the app. Me...
Published: 02/16/18