County jobless rate same as one year ago

Published: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at 11:18 AM.

Franklin County’s unemployment rate dropped by one-half of 1 percent in April, but even with that improvement, it was the only county in the state not to see better numbers than one year ago.

According to preliminary numbers released Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the county’s jobless rate for April shrunk from 5.8 to 5.3 percent, a drop of two-tenths of 1 percent, from March.

The unemployment rolls shed 21 people in April, shrinking from 304 to 283 people in search of work. This decrease in joblessness occurred as the workforce grew by 116 people, from 5,233 to 5,349. The current work force has 56 fewer workers than one year ago, when it comprised 5,405 workers and the jobless rate was the same, at 5.3 percent.

The April jobless picture tied the county with Sarasota, Orange and Gilchrist counties, for 24th best among Florida’s 67 counties. Franklin was worse for unemployment than Manatee, Bay, Nassau, Union, Jackson, Santa Rosa, Broward, Clay, Seminole, Holmes, Collier, Baker, Leon, Jefferson, Liberty, Wakulla, St. Johns, Sumter, Alachua, Okaloosa, Monroe and Walton, the state’s best at 3.2 percent.

Franklin was the one of Florida’s 67 counties to not post a decrease in unemployment over April 2013 numbers.

“We’re seeing the ongoing effects of a changing economy in Franklin County,” said Kim Bodine, executive director of CareerSource Gulf Coast (GCSC). “As we have noted, the Apalachicola area community suffered a harsh blow with the fisheries failure. For generations, countless families relied on that industry for their livelihood. It remains chief among our goals to support and assist employers and job seekers in Franklin County as the funds become available.”

A recently announced federal grant extension will assist a limited number of displaced oystermen in the area, providing training and retraining in careers such as correctional officer, heating and air conditioning, welding, and auto service technicians. CareerSource Gulf Coast will be heavily involved in facilitating the program. A U.S. Department of Commerce grant is also in the final stages of being released which will support training and shelling of the Apalachicola Bay.

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