Franklin County’s unemployment rate took a big jump in the wrong direction in January.
According to preliminary numbers released Monday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the county’s jobless rate for January stood at 6.0 percent, a hike of seven-tenths of 1 percent, from 5.3 percent in December.
The unemployment rolls added 37 people in January, swelling from 271 to 308 people in search of work. This increase in joblessness occurred even as the workforce grew by 165 people, from 5,157 to 5,092. The current work force has 92 more workers than one year ago, when it comprised 5,000 workers and the jobless rate was sharply higher, at 7.5 percent.
The January jobless picture dropped the county well away from its long-standing position as one of the 10 best counties in the state for unemployment. It was tied in January with Lee and Calhoun counties for 23rd best among Florida’s 67 counties.
Franklin was worse for unemployment than Manatee, Orange, Santa Rosa, Liberty, Union, Clay, Holmes, Nassau, Wakulla, Jefferson, Leon, Seminole, 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 6.5 percent in January, 2.5 percentage points lower than the year ago rate of 9.0 percent, while 0.2 percentage point above the current state rate of 6.3 percent.
Gulf County had a jobless rate of 6.9 percent, and Bay County 6.5 percent. Out of a labor force of 98,613, there were 6,420 unemployed CareerSource Gulf Coast residents.
Every March, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) release revised historical data along with the January employment and unemployment estimates. That annual process, known as “benchmarking” is a standard part of the estimation process and take place this same time every year in each state nationwide.
As a result of this annual benchmarking process, local employment data has been adjusted to show job growth instead of job losses in the Panama City metro area.
The figures that show the Panama City-Lynn Haven-Panama City Beach area lost 600 jobs from Dec. 2012 to Dec. 2013 have been adjusted to show an increase of 1,200 jobs, with the largest gains coming from the trade, transportation, and utilities; professional and business services; and mining, logging, and construction industries.
“Over the past year, we’ve seen several positive signs in the local job market so we are not surprised that the annual benchmarking process has revised our numbers to show job gains,” said Kim Bodine, executive director for CareerSource Gulf Coast. “The unemployment rate has dropped 2.5 percent and the number of online jobs advertised has increased by almost 20 percent.”