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Florida's Jobless Rate Continues Downward

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New figures released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity show the state’s unemployment rate dropped slightly from January to last month.

Gov. Rick Scott made the announcement Friday morning at Norris Sports Group in Naples.

“In the month of February we added 14,900 private-sector jobs,” said Scott. “What’s going on in Florida, is we have employment. We’re down to 5.6% unemployment. We’ve added in four years and two months 807,000 jobs.”

That drop was from 5.7 in January – still a bit above the national jobless rate of five and a half. It also represents about 548,000 Floridians still out of work. DEO Director Jesse Panuccio says the story of Florida is also the story of all of its metro regions.

“Steady job growth and continuing unemployment as a long-term trend,” said Panuccio. “If you look at job demands, for example, we set the all-time record statewide in February of 292,000 openings. That includes in the Pensacola Metro Area 5,700 unique job openings, which is up almost 18% over the year.”

In February, almost 36,000 Floridians were placed in jobs by CareerSource EscaRosa, along with the state’s other 23 Regional Workforce Boards.

Unemployment rates in the western Panhandle dropped slightly as well. Escambia County went from 6.1 to 5.9%; Santa Rosa 5.1 to 4.8%, and Okaloosa County fell from 5.2 to 4.9%.

“The desire for more employees is out there, so I think we’ll see continued hiring,” Panuccio said.

The Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent metro area added 5,600 new jobs last month, dropping the unemployment rate to five and a half percent.

Florida's unemployment rate drop since 2010 was initially said to be because people stopped looking for work. But economists say that trend changed in 2014, as the economy began to recover.