Franklin County’s unemployment rate took a tiny jump in the right direction in February.
According to preliminary numbers released Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the county’s jobless rate for February stood at 6.0 percent, a drop of one-tenth of 1 percent, from 6.1 percent in January.
The unemployment rolls added two people in February, growing from 312 to 314 people in search of work. This decrease in joblessness occurred because the workforce grew by 95 people, from 5,099 to 5.194. The current work force has 143 more workers than one year ago, when it comprised 5,051 workers and the jobless rate was higher, at 6.7 percent.
The February jobless picture tied the county with Sarasota County, for 24th best among Florida’s 67 counties. Franklin was worse for unemployment than Sarasota, Orange, Santa Rosa, Liberty, Jefferson, Calhoun, Clay, Wakulla, Union, Collier, Baker, Seminole, Nassau, Holmes, Leon, Sumter, Broward, Jackson, Bradford, St. Johns, Alachua, Okaloosa, Walton, and Monroe, the state’s best at 3.8 percent.
The unemployment rate in the CareerSource Gulf Coast region - Bay, Franklin, and Gulf counties - was 6.4 percent in February, 1.6 percentage points lower than the year ago rate of 8.0 percent, while 0.1 percentage point above the current state rate of 6.3 percent.
Gulf County had a jobless rate of 6.5 percent, and Bay County 6.4 percent. Out of a labor force of 100,877, there were 6,436 unemployed residents in the Gulf Coast region.
“Given the seasonality of the regional market, we anticipated a lower unemployment rate regionally,” said Kim Bodine, executive director of CareerSource Gulf Coast. “Generally, this time of year brings increased opportunities in tourism and hospitality. It is good to see all three of the counties we serve with lower numbers than last month – but there is much work left to do.”
Bodine underlined additional positive indicators in the DEO report. “Job postings are up, and it is encouraging to see employer confidence climbing,” she said. “This is a direct reflection of growing optimism in our economic recovery.”
In February 2014, there were 73,200 nonagricultural jobs in the Panama City-Lynn Haven-Panama City Beach metro area (Bay County), up 1,600 jobs over the year. The metro area’s annual rate of job growth was 2.2 percent, while the state increased at a rate of 3.0 percent.
Six out of 10 industries gained jobs over the year and two industries lost jobs over the year. Professional and business services (+900 jobs) gained the most jobs, followed by trade, transportation, and utilities (+600 jobs); mining, logging, and construction (+300 jobs); financial activities, manufacturing, and leisure and hospitality (+100 jobs each). The industries losing jobs were government (-300 jobs) and other services (-200 jobs). Information and education and health services remained unchanged over the year.
Of the 22 metro areas in the state, the Panama City-Lynn Haven-Panama City Beach metro area had the highest growth rate over the year in professional and business services employment (+11.5 percent).