Florida's April Jobless Rate Drops to 8.7%

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

by Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, May 18, 2012......Florida's jobless rate in April fell to 8.7 percent as the state continued an employment rebound that began 11 months ago, the Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday.

But April's drop was also affected by the fact that nearly 28,000 job seekers dropped out of the hunt.

The number of jobless in April was 0.3 percentage points lower than March and 1.9 points below April 2011. The national unemployment rate for April was 8.1 percent.

Gov. Rick Scott said the continued downward trend was testament to the state's economic recovery and bodes well for Florida's continued climb back toward full employment. The April figures also shows job gains in comparison to the nation as a whole.

"This continued drop in Florida?s unemployment rate is proving our economy is on the path to recovery and Floridians are getting back to work,? Scott said in a statement. ?With Florida being ranked as one of the top two states for business in the nation, employers are sure to continue expanding and moving to Florida creating jobs that help us ensure this pattern will continue.?

University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith, however, say the good news is tempered by the fact that Florida's civilian labor force shrunk between March and April by 28,000, a shrinking job pool that pushes unemployment lower without putting more people back to work.

Taking into account discouraged workers and those working part time, Florida's jobless rate was 17.3 percent for the quarter ending March 31.

"Having the unemployment rate fall because people have given up looking for a job is not an improvement," Snaith said.

Payroll growth has also remained relatively flat, another indication that fewer job seekers are being added to the rolls of employed workers.

"There is not a lot to encourage people to get back in the hunt," Snaith said.

But the number of available jobs does continue to grow. Overall, the number of jobs in Florida was 7,325,300 in April, up 52,600 jobs compared to a year ago. It was the 21st consecutive month of year-to-year job growth.

Leading sectors of the economy included employment services, which grew by nearly 11 percent, or 16,800 jobs. Education and Health Service employment grew by 2.3 percent, adding 25,100 jobs over the 12 month period.

Construction employment continued its contraction in April. The number of construction jobs shrunk by 7.4 percent year-to-year, a drop of 24,800 jobs in that bellwether sector. Building construction jobs fell by nearly 11 percent.

Monroe County had the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.8 percent. It was followed by Walton County (5.2 percent), Okaloosa County (5.7 percent), Franklin County (6.1 percent), and Alachua County (6.2 percent).

Flagler County had the state's highest jobless rate in April a 11.6 percent. It was followed by Hernando County (10.8 percent); Hendry and St. Lucie counties (10.7 percent each); Dixie County (10.2 percent); and Putnam County (9.9 percent).

The number of counties with double-digit unemployment rates continued to fall, dropping by half from 10 in March to five in April.


Unemployment Drops as Economy Improves
by Mike Vasilinda

Florida’s unemployment rate fell three tenths of a percent in April, despite a net loss of twenty seven hundred jobs. Eight hundred and four thousand people remain out of work, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, there are encouraging signs for the states economy.

Floridians are spending again. Sales tax collections are 50 million above estimates. Corporate tax collections were down slightly last month, but they are still 20 percent higher than this time last year.

Last month, the tax that is levied on the sale of new and used houses was 24 million dollars over estimate.

New Housing starts are up 26 percent since January. That’s translating into more steady work for this flooring crew.

“Seems like the economy is picking up and we’re starting to just hustle more work and see more opportunities,” Brent Zapata of Zapata Hardwood Flooring said.

Blocks from the state Capitol, construction of 75 hundred square feet of retail that has been on hold since 2008 is underway. Developer Roger Osborn says the time was right to move.

“Well, I think the momentum is coming back in the economy and things are picking up retail wise,” Osborne said.

When houses are built, porta-potties and dumpsters are rented. Sales tax collections on construction items showed the strongest growth, up seven percent ( 7.1). Auto sales came in a strong second, jumping by six percent (6.1). Consumer spending is up four percent, which is making retailers happy (4.0).

“Consumer confidence equates to consumer spending and consumer spending means more revenue for the state of Florida, more tax collections, etc. More jobs,” Rick McAllister, President of the Florida Retail Federation.

Even the surcharges on old tires and batteries was over estimate in April by a million dollars. That suggests that those who aren’t buying new are fixing up the old.

Virtually every category of state tax collections are up for the year, and if the trend continues, the next time lawmakers meet, they should have more money for schools and other needs.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- May 18, 2012 -

State officials say Florida's unemployment rate dropped to 8.7 percent in April, but that was largely due to people leaving the labor force.

The Department of Economic Opportunity on Friday announced the jobless rate was the lowest it's been since January 2009.

It was a decline of 0.3 percentage points from March's 9 percent rate. That's still higher than the national jobless figure.

Federal officials earlier this month announced the national unemployment rate dropped from 8.2 percent to 8.1 percent in April. But that was mainly because more people gave up looking for work.

That's also what happened in Florida, where the civilian labor force declined by 28,000 workers in April.

Gov. Rick Scott, though, hailed the unemployment figures as good news.

In response to today’s announcement that Florida’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.7 percent in April 2012, Governor Rick Scott made the following statement:

“With 243,594 Florida job openings listed by various help-wanted websites, we are seeing positive trends of job creation by companies and employers throughout our state. Florida’s jobless rate moved to its lowest point in more than three years and is a clear sign we are moving Florida in a direction that gives businesses and job creators the confidence they need to grow and expand. I look forward to continuing to implement my job creation and economic development agenda to further grow Florida’s economy.”

DEO Release

Today, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) announced that Florida’s unemployment rate continued its decline, dropping down to 8.7 in April 2012 – the lowest since January 2009. The April 2012 rate was 1.9 percentage points lower than the April 2011 rate of 10.6 percent.

“This continued drop in Florida’s unemployment rate is proving our economy is on the path to recovery and Floridians are getting back to work,” said Governor Rick Scott. “With Florida being ranked as one of the top two states for business in the nation, employers are sure to continue expanding and moving to Florida creating jobs that help us ensure this pattern will continue.”

Florida’s job growth rate over the year has been positive for 21 consecutive months, after losing jobs for three straight years. Since Governor Scott’s inauguration, the state’s unemployment rate has dropped 2.2 percentage points and added almost 100,000 private sector jobs.

Additional positive workforce trends include:

· Florida’s unemployment rates have declined over the year for 17 consecutive months

· Florida’s unemployment rate has declined for 10 consecutive months

· Florida’s job growth over the month has been positive for eight of the last 10 months

Also in April, the state’s 24 Regional Workforce Boards reported that nearly 30,000 Floridians were placed in jobs, with 124,000 job placements reported since January. Of these individuals, 6,754 previously receiving unemployment compensation were assisted in April, with 27,500 former claimants finding employment since the beginning of the year. This continues a positive trend statewide in reducing the impact on the state’s unemployment compensation totals, with 345,000 people claiming benefits representing a drop of more than 45 percent from the peak of 735,000 claims in February 2010. This reduction means less of a financial burden on taxpayers and businesses.

“Under the leadership of our job-focused Governor, Florida’s unemployment rate has decreased to its lowest point in more than three years, again showing Florida is headed in the right direction,” said DEO Executive Director Hunting F. Deutsch. “We will continue collaborating with our partners at Enterprise Florida and Workforce Florida to create a reemployment system that produces the best workforce in the nation to support Florida’s growing businesses.”

Florida’s job openings advertised online were 243,000 in April 2012, up nearly 3 percent over the month according to The Conference Board. This is a gain in labor demand over the month of nearly 7,000 job openings.

To view the April 2012 monthly employment data visit: www.floridajobs.org/lmsc/releases.

To view the latest Help Wanted OnLine Job Demand report from The Conference Board visit: www.floridajobs.org/lmsc/hwol.

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