Franklin County’s unemployment rate rose last month, as the workforce continues to shrink during the offseason.
According to preliminary numbers released Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the county’s jobless rate for November stood at 5.3 percent, a drop of three-tenths of 1 percent, up from 5.0 percent in October.
The unemployment rolls added 14 people last month, rising from 257 to 271 people in search of work. This increase in unemployment occurred as the workforce shrank by 18 people, from 5,176 to 5,158. The current work force comprises 163 fewer workers than one year ago, when it comprised 5,321 workers and the jobless rate was sharply higher, at 6.4 percent.
Franklin County’s November jobless picture tied it with Bradford, Seminole and Leon counties for 10th best in the state, behind Monroe County, at 3.7 percent, Walton at 4.0 percent, Okaloosa, at 4.5 percent, Alachua and St. Johns at 4.9 percent, Jackson, Jefferson and Wakulla at 5.1, and Broward at 5.2 percent. . Many of the counties with the lowest unemployment rates have relatively high proportions of government employment.
Franklin had the lowest unemployment in the Gulf Coast Workforce region, which also includes Bay and Gulf counties, which were at 6.3 and 6.7 percent, respectively. The region’s overall rate was 6.3 percent in November, 1.8 percentage points lower than the region’s year ago rate, and one-tenth of 1 percentage point above the state rate of 6.2 percent.
“With so many jobs tied to tourism in our area, it is typical to see unemployment rise during the winter months when tourism is slower,” said Kim Bodine, executive director for Gulf Coast Workforce Board. “On a positive note, our local employment situation seems to be improving over the year - showing an increase of advertised job openings and significant decrease in the number of unemployed individuals compared to last November,”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the Panama City-Lynn Haven-Panama City Beach metro area lost 1,600 jobs over the year, an annual job loss rate of -2.3 percent. Both the Gulf Coast Workforce Board and Labor Market Statistics with the Department of Economic Opportunity question the accuracy of the job loss numbers based on positive local economic indicators such as bed tax collections, sale tax collections, and job openings.
Based on the BLS data, two out of 10 industries gained jobs over the year and six industries lost jobs over the year. Mining, logging, and construction and manufacturing (+200 jobs each) were the only industries that gained jobs over the year. The industries losing jobs were government and leisure and hospitality (-600 jobs each); trade, transportation, and utilities (-500 jobs); and education and health services, professional and business services, and financial activities (-100 jobs each). Information and other services remained unchanged over the year.
The Panama City-Lynn Haven-Panama City Beach metro area had the highest over the year growth rate in manufacturing employment (+5.9 percent) of all metro areas in Florida.