County jobless rate drops from state’s best

Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 01:40 PM.

Franklin County’s unemployment rate dropped a bit 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 December stood at 5.3 percent, a decline of one-tenth of 1 percent, from 5.4 percent in November.

The unemployment rolls shed 10 people last month, dropping from 279 to 269 people in search of work. This decrease in unemployment occurred as the workforce shrank by 129 people, from 5,167 to 5,038. The current work force has 214 fewer workers than one year ago, when it comprised 5,252 workers and the jobless rate was sharply higher, at 6.6 percent.

Franklin County’s December jobless picture dropped it from its long-standing position as one of the 10 best counties in the state for joblessness. It was tied in December with Clay County for 17th best, behind Wakulla, Holmes and Nassau all tied for 14th, and Sumter, Santa Rosa, Leon, Seminole and Bradford, all tied for ninth.

Franklin was also worse for unemployment than Broward, in eighth place; Jefferson seventh; Jackson sixth; Alachua and St. Johns tied for fourth; Okaloosa third; Walton second; and Monroe first. 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, at 6.3 and 6.4 percent, respectively. The region’s overall rate was 6.3 percent in December, 2.2 percentage points lower than the region’s year ago rate, and 0.4 of a percentage point above the state rate of 5.9 percent.

Out of a labor force of 94,159, there were 5,885 unemployed Gulf Coast residents.

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