Franklin County saw a drop in its unemployment rate in August, as it continued to be the fourth best county in the state for joblessness.
According to preliminary numbers released Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the county’s jobless rate last month dropped three-tenths of 1 percent, from 5.5 to 5.2 percent.
The unemployment rolls shed 18 people, dropping from 301 to 283 people in search of work. This decrease in unemployment occurred as the workforce shrank by 52 people, from 5,514 to 5,462. The current work force comprises 46 fewer workers than one year ago, when it comprised 5,508 workers and the jobless rate was sharply higher, at 6.6 percent.
Franklin County’s August jobless picture, tied with St. John’s County, placed it just a few notches behind Monroe County, at 4.1 percent, Walton at 4.1 percent and Okaloosa, at 4.7 percent. Many of the counties with the lowest unemployment rates have relatively high proportions of government employment. Seasonal tourism also was a contributing factor.
Franklin had the lowest jobless rate in the tri-county Gulf Coast Workforce region, which averaged 6.2 percent in August, 1.6 percentage points lower than the region’s year ago rate of 7.8 percent, and 0.8 percentage points below the August 2013 state rate of 7.4 percent.
Bay County’s jobless rate fell from 6.5 to 6.3 percent, while Gulf County’s dropped from 7.1 to 6.9 percent. Out of a labor force of 102,665, there were 6,661 unemployed Gulf Coast residents. Out of a labor force of 100,826, there were 6,300 unemployed Gulf Coast residents.
“We are excited that our unemployment rate keeps dropping, and we look forward to next month’s numbers where we will begin to see in these unemployment and job creation numbers the local economic impact of General Dynamics Information Technology opening their new call center in Lynn Haven,” Kim Bodine, executive director of the Gulf Coast Workforce Board.
The Panama City metro area lost the most jobs over the year and had the highest rate of job losses of all metro areas in Florida. The metro area also lost the most jobs in trade, transportation, and utilities; and leisure and hospitality.
“Keep in mind the data gathered for unemployment rates and job creates rates are collected using different agencies and different sample sizes, so it has been common for our area to see a seeming incongruence of these numbers and we have made our partner agencies aware that we don’t believe the job loss numbers year over year in tourism and hospitality and retail trade are accurate,” said Bodine.
“But if you look closer at the monthly change, we will normally see our metro area’s August jobs rise in the education and government sectors from July to August because of the school year beginning again, and we will notice a decrease in leisure/hospitality jobs because the tourism season begins to slow down.”