The labor force is shrinking, and the unemployment rate is dropping.

With a decline in the labor force, Franklin County’s unemployment rate dropped sharply in September.

According to preliminary numbers released Oct. 18, Franklin’s jobless rate fell by seven-tenths of 1 percent in September, from 3.5 to 2.8 percent, with 37 people leaving the jobless rolls, which now number 139.

The labor force shrank by 63 workers, from .5,022 in August to 4,959 last month. The workforce remained larger than one year ago, when it was at 4,841, the jobless rolls at 140 were about the same, and the unemployment rate was a tad higher at 2.9 percent.

The unemployment rate in Gulf County dropped from 4.4 to 3.8 percent, while in Bay it declined from 3.5 to 3.0 percent.

The Franklin County unemployment rate was better than both the national average, which was 3.3 percent in September, and the state average, which was 3.0 percent.

Franklin’s September numbers tied it for 12th best in the state, together with Alachua, Broward, Clay, Leon, Liberty, Sarasota and Union counties. Ahead of these were five counties – Baker, Nassau, Orange, Pinellas and Santa Rosa – all tied for seventh at 2.7 percent.

Topping the state were Seminole and Wakulla counties, each at 2.6 percent; Walton at 2.5 percent; St. Johns at 2.4 percent; Okaloosa at 2.3 percent; and Monroe County, the best in the state, at 2.0 percent.

The number of jobs in Florida was 9.05 million in September, up 224,700 jobs compared to a year ago. The industry gaining the most jobs was education and health services (+59,600 jobs, +4.5 percent). Other industries gaining jobs over the year included professional and business services (+49,200 jobs, +3.6 percent); leisure and hospitality (+30,300 jobs, +2.5 percent); trade, transportation, and utilities (+20,400 jobs, +1.1 percent); financial activities (+19,100 jobs, +3.3 percent); construction (+16,200 jobs, +2.9 percent); other services (+9,900 jobs, +2.8 percent); government (+9,700 jobs, +0.9 percent); and manufacturing (+7,700 jobs, +2.1 percent).

The one industry losing jobs was information (-2,100 jobs, -1.5 percent).