Franklin County’s unemployment rate has held steady at 5 percent for the past two months, as the workforce continues to shrink going into the offseason.
According to preliminary numbers released Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the county’s jobless rate for September and October stood at 5.0 percent, a drop of two-tenths of 1 percent, down from 5.2 percent in August.
The unemployment rolls shed 25 people since the summer, dropping from 283 to 258 people in search of work. This decrease in unemployment occurred as the workforce shrank by 287 people, from 5,462 to 5,175. The current work force comprises 200 fewer workers than one year ago, when it comprised 5,375 workers and the jobless rate was sharply higher, at 6.2 percent.
Franklin County’s September/October jobless picture placed it at sixth best in the state, behind Monroe County, at 3.8 percent, Walton at 3.9 percent, Okaloosa, at 4.4 percent, Alachua at 4.7 percent and St. Johns at 4.9 percent. Many of the counties with the lowest unemployment rates have relatively high proportions of government employment.
Franklin had the lowest jobless rate in the tri-county Gulf Coast Workforce region, which averaged 6.0 percent in September/October 1.6 percentage points lower than the region’s year ago rate of 7.6 percent, and 0.6 percentage points below the Oct. 2013 state rate of 6.6 percent.
Bay County’s jobless rate fell from 6.3 to 6.0 percent, while Gulf County’s dropped from 6.9 to 6.7 percent. Out of a labor force of 96,935, there were 5,840 unemployed Gulf Coast residents.
“Locally, we are seeing positive indicators including growing job opportunities in the manufacturing sector,” said Kim Bodine, executive director of the Gulf Coast Workforce Board. “We are also seeing many jobs being created as the retail industry ramps up their seasonal hiring.”
The Panama City metro area lost the most jobs over the year of all metro areas in Florida. The metro area also lost the most jobs in trade, transportation, and utilities and leisure and hospitality.