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Jobless Rates Down in September Across Florida, Locally

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  Florida’s jobless rate continues to nudge slowly downward, to what’s being called the lowest mark in seven years.

The unemployment rate went from 5.4% in August to 5.2 last month, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity. So, what’s fueling the decline? DEO Director Jesse Panuccio has a simple answer: job growth.

“We’re seeing across the state – virtually every region – strong job growth,” said Panuccio. “We’ve been hovering, sort of year over year, a job growth rate of around four percent. This month it was 3.4% -- another 8,700 private-sector jobs added.”

The only major industry that lost jobs over the year was information. Meanwhile, the Pensacola metro area has added 3,600 jobs over the year in a number of sectors:

  • Trade/transportation/utilities – 800
  • Professional and business services – 700
  • Education and health services – 700
  • Leisure and hospitality -- 700

The Pensacola/Ferry Pass/Brent metro area dropped from 5.3 to five percent last month. The other local metro area – Crestview/Fort Walton Beach/Destin – went from 4.5-4.4%.
There’s talk every month about “adjusted” jobless figures. Panuccio says the raw numbers are based on samplings and surveys done by the U-S Department of Labor, with input from state government. It’s a matter of getting numbers reflecting what the underlying economy is up to despite normal seasonal variations – such as what’s coming up.

“As the holiday season approaches, retailers staff up – that’s predictable every year,” Panuccio said. “So we know there will be a decline in unemployment for a bump in job growth. Seasonal adjustment is a modeling technique to take out those expected seasonal variations.

The three counties in northwest Florida all saw their jobless rates decline. Escambia County went from five and a half percent to 5.2%; Santa Rosa 4.9% to 4.6, and Okaloosa County dropped from four and a half to 4.3%. Those rates are not seasonally adjusted.

“And that’s why we compare year-over-year, rather than month-to-month,” said Panuccio. “You’ll want to compare September, 2015 to September, 2014. We seasonally adjust the statewide rate, and that’s also true of the national rate (5.1% in September) that you hear from the federal government.  

Next door, the unemployment rate in Alabama also dropped in September to six percent -- down from the August rate of 6.2%.