Franklin County saw another drop in its unemployment rate for April, as it declined to the 5.0 percent level, fifth lowest in the state.
According to preliminary numbers released Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the county’s jobless rate in April dropped four-tenths of 1 percent, from 5.4 percent. Thirteen people moved off unemployment rolls, shrinking them from 285 to 272 people in search of work.
The drop in joblessness occurred even as the workforce grew by 87 workers, from 5,367 to 5,454, which is larger than one year ago, when it comprised 5,292 workers, and when the jobless rate was sharply higher, at 6.5 percent.
Franklin County’s jobless picture placed it just a few notches behind Monroe County, at 3.7 percent, Walton (4.1 percent), Okaloosa (4.6 percent), and Alachua (4.8 percent). Many of the counties with the lowest unemployment rates were those with relatively high proportions of government employment. Strong population growth was also a contributing factor.
Franklin had the lowest unemployment rate in the tri-county Gulf Coast Workforce region, which had a combined rate of 6.2 percent in April. This rate was down 1.5 percentage points below April 2013. Bay County’s jobless rate dropped from 6.6 to 6.2 percent, while Gulf County’s declined from 7.1 to 6.5 percent. Out of a labor force of 100,652, there were 6,215 unemployed Gulf Coast residents.
“Unemployment usually dips during the spring in our region because our local tourism industry is in full swing. We will probably see that start to rise again July through September as the tourism season winds down,” said Kim Bodine, executive director for Gulf Coast Workforce Board. “Just as last month, our metro area has not seen unemployment numbers this low since Oct. 2008, yet we still have room for improvement. The metro area’s 2008 low was in April, at a rate of 4.0 percent, which is 2.2 percentage points lower than this month’s number of 6.2.”