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Unemployment Down In NWFL, Statewide


  The Pensacola metro area’s unemployment rate dropped from 5.5% in September, to 4.8% last month, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity.

3,900 new jobs were added in the Pensacola area during that span, part of the nearly 37,000 statewide – the highest one-month total for jobs added in a decade. DEO Director Jesse Panuccio says they’re spread out over a number of sectors.

“Education/Health Services added 1,100jobs; Professional and Business Services added 900 jobs, Trade/Transportation/Utilities 800 jobs, and Leisure/Hospitality added 600 jobs,” said Panuccio. “You’re really seeing four industries there growing over the year at a very good clip. So it’s very good news for the region.”

Although dwarfed by larger metro areas such as Tampa, Miami-Dade, Jacksonville, and Fort Lauderdale, Pensacola’s 39 hundred new jobs are significant, says Panuccio.

“There are certainly many areas of the state that grew many more jobs, but of course they’re much bigger,” Panuccio said. “Perhaps a better comparison is job growth rate. Pensacola had a 2.8% growth rate in the private sector, and that’s about the middle of the pack.”

Florida’s jobless rate fell from 5.2 to 5.1%. The rates in the western Panhandle also fell. Escambia County went from 5.2% to five even; Santa Rosa 4.6 to 4.4%, and Okaloosa County dropped from 4.4 to 4.2%.

There were 492,000 jobless Floridians, out of the state’s 9.6 million member labor force. Given the growth so far, what about the November figures, which come out in December? Too early, says Panuccio.

“If you look at what’s been happening in the overall Florida economy, the trend lines are very good,” said Panuccio. “So we are very hopeful that we’ll have another great month.”

The Pensacola metro area had almost 5,300 job openings in October, including 1,100 in the STEM occupations -- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

The nationwide unemployment rate in October was five percent, according to figures released earlier this month by the Commerce Department. Next door, Alabama's unemployment rate is also down slightly, going from 6% in September to 5.9% last month.