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 jharrington@tampabay.com.

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. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  2. A sports rout on Wall Street

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  3. Grocery chain Aldi hosting hiring event in Brandon Aug. 24

    Retail

    BRANDON — German grocery chain Aldi is holding a hiring event for its Brandon store Aug. 24. It is looking to fill store associate, shift manager and manager trainee positions.

  4. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  5. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights

    Business

    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.

    Yet.

    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]