Franklin County’s unemployment rate last month improved by nearly one-half of 1 percentage point, as 18 people left the jobless rolls.

According to preliminary data released May 19 by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the jobless rate in April fell to 3.5 percent, even as the workforce grew by 40 people to 4,819, with 170 people in search of work.

The current work force has just seven fewer workers than one year ago, when it comprised 4,826 workers and the jobless rate was higher at 4.0 percent.

The April jobless numbers tied Franklin with Orange and Seminole counties for 10th best in the state. Ahead of them were Walton, Alachua, Bradford, Union, Lafayette, Wakulla, Okaloosa, with St. Johns second at 3.0, and Monroe County best at 2.6 percent joblessness.

The unemployment rate in the CareerSource Gulf Coast region (Bay, Franklin, and Gulf counties) was 4.0 percent in April, measurably lower than the 2016 rate of 4.6 percent. Franklin County’s was the lowest unemployment rate in the region followed by Gulf County (3.6 percent), and Bay County (4.0 percent).

Out of a labor force of 100,482 there were 3,974 unemployed residents in the region.

“The numbers indicate great job growth over the year,” said Kim Bodine, executive director of CareerSource Gulf Coast. “We are tracking right along with the state in terms of unemployment rates, and right now that is a great place to be.”

The Panama City Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes Bay and Gulf counties, marked an increase of 1,400 employment opportunities over the year. The industries gaining in jobs over the year were mining, logging, and construction (+400 jobs); government (+400 jobs); trade, transportation, and utilities (+300 jobs); professional and business services (+300 jobs); financial activities (+200 jobs); and education and health services (+100 jobs).

The leisure and hospitality (‐300 jobs) industries lost jobs over the year. The manufacturing, information, and other services industries were unchanged over the year.

CareerSource Gulf Coast provides services to job seekers and employers in Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties. All employers in the region are welcome to post their jobs with CareerSource Gulf Coast, in order to acquire the best and brightest employees. Offices are operated in all three counties. Visit www.careersourcegc.com to learn more about professional workforce development and job placement services, all offered at no charge.