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.
The CSGC region as a whole experienced a measurable decline in unemployment, and narrowly outpaced the state, with all three counties comprising the region - Bay, Franklin, and Gulf - posting declines.
The unemployment rate in the region was 5.2 percent, 1.2 percentage points lower than the region’s year ago rate of 6.4 percent, while half of 1 percentage point below the April 2014 state rate of 5.7 percent. Out of labor force of 103,412, there were 5,356 unemployed Gulf Coast residents.
The April 2014 unemployment rate in Bay County dipped to 5.1 percent, while Gulf County fell to 5.8 percent.
“In general, we are pleased to see continued upward movement as a region,” Bodine said. “We are working as hard as ever to bring more employers to the table, to give them the support they both want and require. Our successful Career Expo this week is just one sign of our unyielding commitment to bring employers and qualified job seekers together.”
While there were more employment opportunities locally, the growth in opportunities is slow. In April 2014, there were 75,800 nonagricultural jobs in the Panama City‐Lynn Haven‐Panama City Beach metro area (Bay County), up 800 jobs over the year. The Panama City‐Lynn Haven‐Panama City Beach metro area’s annual rate of job growth was 1.1 percent, while the state increased at a rate of 3.2 percent.