Franklin County saw a tiny rise in its unemployment rate in July, 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 in July rose one-tenth of 1 percent, from 5.4 to 5.5 percent.
The unemployment rolls added seven people, growing from 296 to 303 people in search of work. This slight increase in unemployment occurred as the workforce shrank by 13 people, from 5,526 to 5,513, which is 47 fewer workers in than one year ago, when it comprised 5,560 workers and the jobless rate was sharply higher, at 6.7 percent.
Franklin County’s July jobless picture placed it just a few notches behind Monroe and Walton counties, at 4.2 percent, which shared the state’s lowest unemployment rate, and Okaloosa, at 5.1 percent. Many of the counties with the lowest unemployment rates were those with 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 6.5 percent in July, 1.5 percentage points lower than the region’s year ago rate of 8.0 percent, and 0.9 percentage points below the June 2013 state rate of 7.4 percent.
Bay County’s jobless rate fell from 6.6 to 6.5 percent, while Gulf County’s increased from 6.9 to 7.1 percent. Out of a labor force of 102,665, there were 6,661 unemployed Gulf Coast residents.
“Locally, we are seeing positive indicators including growing job opportunities in the manufacturing, and construction industries, some of the hardest hit sectors during the economic downturn,” said Kim Bodine, executive director of the Gulf Coast Workforce Board. “We are also seeing many jobs being created as General Dynamics ramps up hiring for their call center to open in Lynn Haven.”
The Panama City-Lynn Haven-Panama City Beach area ranked fourth lowest in terms of unemployment rates, behind the Crestview-Ft Walton Beach-Destin; Gainesville; and Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach areas.
The Bay County metro area lost 2,100 jobs over the year, an annual rate of job loss of 2.8 percent, the highest rate of all of Florida’s metro areas. The state increased jobs at a 2.1 percent rate. . The metro area lost the most jobs in trade, transportation, and utilities; education and health services; and leisure and hospitality.
“We question the accuracy of the job loss number,” said Bodine. “As reported recently, July was a banner month for our tourism industry (leisure and hospitality) and we have seen increased taxable sales over the year along with strong employment opportunities in the retail trade sector; the numbers just don’t add up.”