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Florida's unemployment rate drops for fourth straight month

Florida's unemployment level dropped to 4.1 percent in June from 4.3 percent in May. |  [Times file photo]
Florida's unemployment level dropped to 4.1 percent in June from 4.3 percent in May. | [Times file photo]
Published Jul. 21, 2017

Unemployment in Florida hit a 10-year low in June, clocking in at 4.1 percent, down from 4.3 percent in May. The state added 19,400 jobs over the month, and saw growth in most industries. But there's one glaring missing piece to the economic recovery puzzle: wage growth.

"Wage growth has been the Great Pumpkin of this economic recovery," Sean Snaith, economist at the University of Central Florida, said. "Like Linus, we keep waiting for it to show up, and it hasn't really come in earnest."

It's the only factor standing in the way of full employment. All other indicators, however, show a healthy and recovering economy that outpaces national averages.

"The momentum is good, and we've got strong job growth numbers in our main economic drivers," Mekael Teshome, economist at PNC Financial Services, said.

Tampa Bay's unemployment rate jumped slightly to 4.1 percent, up from May's 3.8 percent. All counties saw a slight increase in unemployment: Hillsborough County's rate increased to 4 percent from May's 3.7 percent. Hernando County rose to 5.3 percent over the month, up from 5 percent. Pinellas County jumped slightly to 3.8 percent from 3.7 percent, while Pasco County increased to 4.5 percent from 4.3 percent.

Unlike statewide estimates, however, county and metro figures tend are not seasonally adjusted so they tend to fluctuate more month to month.

June's unemployment rate declined because fewer people were looking for work, as opposed to more workers finding positions.

The national unemployment rate for June stood at 4.4 percent, up from 4.3 percent over the month.

Florida leads country in job growth while unemployment rate dips to 10-year low

Between May and June, Florida gained 19,400 jobs, less than the previous month's job growth of 29,600. The state was outpaced by several states, however, including Texas — 40,200 over the month — as well as Georgia — 27,400 — and New York — 26,000.

Construction added 5,100 jobs over the month and 32,400 over the year, while business and professional services lost 900 jobs in June but gained 47,800 over the year.

Gov. Rick Scott announced the employment numbers during a visit to Las Vegas to meet with budget airline Allegiant Air, touting its job growth in Florida.

All that remains is the need for higher pay. Part of the reason wages haven't climbed, PNC's Teshome said, is because businesses are learning to do more with less resources. But another factor, UCF's Snaith said, is underemployment and people of working age who aren't participating in the workforce.

"There's just a hidden supply of labor out there that is allowing businesses to hire without pushing up wages yet," Snaith said.

They expect this to change as the economy continues to recover.

Contact Malena Carollo at or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo on Twitter.


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