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January Jobless Rate Stays Level


Florida’s unemployment rate held steady from December to January at 5.7 percent. Heading into Governor Rick Scott’s second term, the focus is on private sector job growth.

According to the Department of Economic Opportunity, January’s figure translates to 551,000 Floridians considered unemployed, from a work force of 9.7 million. But DEO Chief Jesse Panuccio says that’s not the whole story.

“If you look at the revised data, 2014 was clearly our strongest year yet in the recovery, with over 268,000 jobs added,” said Panuccio.”

The January mark was a bit higher than the national figure of five and a half percent. Panuccio says the trend lines are still very good, as is the state’s growing labor force. According to DEO’s tracking of the four-year trend, there’s been growth in most all of the industry sectors.

“Although you often hear, for example, the leisure and hospitality jobs are growing the most, what we’re actually seeing is that professional and business services grew the most over the last year,” Panuccio said. “Over the year we did see a loss in the information sector, although over the longer term, the four-year period, we did see growth in that sector.”

Unemployment figures were up in the western Panhandle. Escambia County rose from 5.6% to 6.1% from December to January. Santa Rosa went from 4.6 to 5.1%, and Okaloosa County was also at 5.1, jumping from 4.7%. Panuccio says the national and state jobless rates are seasonally adjusted, but not counties and metro areas. The Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent metro area saw positive annual job growth over the year with 5,800 new jobs, according to DEO.

“In 2014, we were coming a little bit out, we were still having pretty good high numbers for visits to our one-stop center,” said Susan Nelms, Executive Director of CareerSource EscaRosa. “The numbers have gone down for this year. We’ve have a lot of recruitment events, that shows to me that the economy is still getting better.”

CareerSource EscaRosa – which serves Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties – is one of 24 regional workforce boards that in total reported more than 35,000 Floridians placed in jobs in January.

Individuals who receive employment and training assistance through a CareerSource Center, and find a job within 180 days, is a placement and may be reported by a regional workforce board. Last year, 471,000 people were placed -- including 24,000 veterans.

As for types of jobs handled by the workforce boards, Nelms says they’re virtually across the board as evidenced by some of their recent job fairs.

“Arizona Chemical, people from the West come in and do recruitment events for your higher-skilled welding positions,” Nelms said. “We do Tom Thumb; Lowe’s, Home Depot. We’re doing a recruitment now for firefighters. Just a lot of different skill levels that are starting to come through, other than just retail.”

More information on Career Source EscaRosa and its services can be found at CareerSourceEscaRosa.com. Employment data for February will be released by the Department of Economic Opportunity on March 27.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.