After soaring in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, Franklin County’s jobless rate is gradually improving, although it still lags behind the unemployment numbers of one year ago.

According to preliminary numbers released Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Franklin’s unemployment rose slightly in January, from 5 to 5.1 percent, and then dropped to 4.4 percent last month.

The number of people on the jobless rolls in January increased, from 233 to 245, as the labor force continued to shrink, from 4,684 in December to 4,542, a hefty decline of 142 workers.

In February, the size of the workforce expanded by 81 workers, to 4,623, and the number of people receiving jobless benefits dropped by 32, to 213.

The county’s February unemployment rate remained well above the Feb. 2018 numbers, when only 164 people were jobless, and the rate was 3.5 percent, one of the lowest in the state.

Franklin last month was tied with Gadsden County for the 12th worst in the state, behind Calhoun, Hernando and Putnam counties, all at 4.6 percent; Hamilton at 4.7, Highlands at 4.8; Bay and Hendry counties at 5 percent. Hardee and Sumter counties at 5.1; Citrus at 5.3, and Gulf County, with the state’s highest joblessness, at 6.2 percent.

Franklin’s February jobless rate was the best in the tri-county Gulf Coast region, which includes Bay and Gulf counties. Gulf, which improved from 7.4 percent in January, had 372 workers on the jobless rolls in February. Bay, which saw its unemployment rate drop to 5 percent in February from 6 percent the month before, had 4,285 unemployed workers, more than 750 more than were on the jobless rolls one year ago.