Make us your home page
Instagram

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]

Unemployment rate comparisons

Citrus

May '14 April '14 May '13
7.4% 6.9% 8.5%

Hernando

7.8% 7.5%9.1%

Hillsborough

6% 5.6% 7%

Pasco

6.8% 6.5% 8.1%

Pinellas

5.9% 5.7% 7.1%

Hendry (highest)

9.4% 8.3% 10.7%

Walton (lowest)

3.4% 3.2% 4.4%

Tampa Bay area*

6.2%5.9%7.3%

Florida

6.3% 6.2% 7.5%

Nation

6.3% 6.3% 7.5%

* Combines Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties.

Note: County and Tampa Bay area numbers are not seasonally adjusted. Florida and U.S. numbers are seasonally adjusted.

Source: Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

Florida unemployment rises to 6.3 percent 06/20/14 [Last modified: Friday, June 20, 2014 10:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  2. New York town approves Legoland proposal

    News

    GOSHEN, N.Y. — New York is one step closer to a Lego dreamland. Goshen, a small town about fifty miles northwest of the Big Apple, has approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park.

    A small New York town, Goshen approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park. Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven. [Times file  photo]
  3. Jordan Park to get $20 million makeover and new senior housing

    Real Estate

    By WAVENEY ANN MOORE

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG —The St. Petersburg Housing Authority, which bought back the troubled Jordan Park public housing complex this year, plans to spend about $20 million to improve the 237-unit property and construct a new three-story building for …

    Jordan Park, the historic public housing complex, is back in the hands of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. The agency is working to improve the 237-unit complex. But the latest plan to build a new three-story building for seniors will mean 31 families have to find new homes. [LARA CERRI   |   Tampa Bay Times]
  4. Coming soon at two Tampa Bay area hospitals: a cancer treatment that could replace chemo

    Health

    A new cancer treatment that could eventually replace chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants — along with their debilitating side effects — soon will be offered at two of Tampa Bay's top-tier hospitals.

    Dr. Frederick Locke at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa is a principal investigator for an experimental therapy that retrains white blood cells in the body's immune system to fight cancer cells. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved these so-called "CAR-T" treatments for adults this month. In trials, 82 percent of cases responded well to the treatment, and 44 percent are still in remission at least eight months later, Locke said. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  5. Regulator blasts Wells Fargo for deceptive auto insurance program

    Banking

    Wells Fargo engaged in unfair and deceptive practices, failed to properly manage risks and hasn't set aside enough money to pay back the customers it harmed, according to a confidential report by federal regulators.

    Wells Fargo engaged in unfair and deceptive practices, failed to properly manage risks and hasn't set aside enough money to pay back the customers it harmed, according to a confidential report by federal regulators.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images, 2017]