The trend of Franklin County’s unemployment rate reversed course last month towards the brighter side, improving by one-half of 1 percentage point.

According to preliminary data released Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the August unemployment rate, which stood at 4.4 percent in July, declined to 3.9 percent.

The labor force dropped by 13 workers to 4,913, as 24 people left the jobless rolls, shrinking them to 194 people in search of work. The current work force has 10 more workers than one year ago, when it comprised 4,903 workers, and the jobless rate was higher at 4.4 percent.

The August jobless numbers tied Franklin with Okaloosa for fourth best in the state, just behind Lafayette at 3.8; St. Johns at 3.6; and Monroe County best at 3.1 percent joblessness.

While the statewide unemployment rate was posted at 4.9 percent for August, the local three-county region was slightly better than that at 4.6 percent. Bay County dropped from 4.9 to 4.6 percent, and Gulf County’s jobless rate shrank from 4.5 to 4.3 percent.

The regional rate was 0.5 percentage point lower than the region's year ago rate of 5.1 percent. Out of a labor force of 99,264 there were 4,554 unemployed residents in the region.

While the Panama City area lost a net of 200 jobs over the month, the area had the third fastest annual job growth rate compared to all the metro areas in the state in education and health services (+5.5 percent). Other areas showing growth in August were leisure and hospitality (+600 jobs); government (+200 jobs); and professional and business services (+100 jobs).

The trade, transportation, and utilities; mining, logging, and construction; information; financial activities; and other services industries lost jobs over the year, while the manufacturing industry was unchanged.

“It’s really a positive time for us in terms of jobs and economic development,” said Kim Bodine, executive director of CareerSource Gulf Coast. “Near the end of August, we heard the official announcement from Jellyfish Health in Panama City moving to a larger downtown location. As of last week, we have more great news with Eastern Shipbuilding winning the large $10.5 billion contract to build U.S. Coast Guard cutters.

“We enjoy a vibrant partnership working with our economic development, education, Chambers of Commerce organizations as well as local governments and business partners to expand existing and bring new companies to Bay County. To say we are excited about all the new jobs coming to our community is an understatement,” she said.

CareerSource Gulf Coast provides services to job seekers and employers in Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties. to learn more about professional workforce development and job placement services, all offered at no charge.