Franklin County saw a tiny rise in its unemployment rate for December, as it ticked up to the 6.4 percent level.
According to preliminary numbers released Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the county’s jobless rate last month rose one-tenth of 1 percent to 6.4 percent, as five people were added to the unemployment rolls, growing them from 346 to 351 people in search of work.
The workforce also shrank by 82 workers, from 5,536 to 5,454, but remained larger than one year ago, when it comprised 5,398 workers, and when the jobless rate was sharply higher, at 8.1 percent.
Because of improvement in other Florida counties, Franklin County’s jobless picture tied it for eighth best in the state, along with Union, Jackson and Sumter counties. Monroe County, at 4.5 percent, had the state’s lowest unemployment rate, followed by Walton County (5.7 percent), Okaloosa County (5.8 percent), Alachua (6.1 percent), Wakulla and St. Johns counties (6.2 percent) and Leon County (6.3 percent). Many of the counties with the lowest unemployment rates were those with relatively high proportions of government employment.
The unemployment rate in the Gulf Coast Workforce region (Bay, Franklin, and Gulf counties) was 8.3 percent in December, up 0.2 percentage point from November.
The December 2012 rate was 0.4 percentage point above the state rate of 7.9 percent, and 1.8 percentage points lower than the region’s year ago rate of 10.1 percent. Out of a labor force of 98,981, there were 8,228 unemployed Gulf Coast residents. While Bay County’s jobless rose to 8.5 from 8.3 percent, Gulf County’s unemployment fell to 7.7 from 8.0 percent.
“Unemployment typically peaks in December or January for our local area due to the number of seasonal jobs. Our area is doing much better than this same time last year and in the last couple of weeks we’ve noticed an increase in the number of local job opportunities coming available,” said Kim Bodine, executive director for Gulf Coast Workforce Board.
In December 2012, there were 70,900 nonagricultural jobs in the Panama City-Lynn Haven-Panama City Beach metro area (Bay County), down 1,000 jobs over the year. This metro area experienced an annual rate of job change of minus-1.4 percent, while the state gained jobs at a rate of 0.9 percent.
Three out of 10 industries gained jobs over the year and seven industries lost jobs over the year. Leisure and hospitality (+200 jobs); and manufacturing and government (+100 jobs each) gained jobs over the year. The industries losing jobs were professional and business services and education and health services (-300 jobs each); trade, transportation, and utilities, financial activities, and other services (-200 jobs each); and mining, logging, and construction, and information (-100 jobs each).
The metro area had the second fastest growth rate (+3.4 percent) in manufacturing employment for all metro areas in Florida. Government employment increased (+0.7 percent) in the metro area, while declining (-0.8 percent) statewide.