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County jobless rate continues to improve

David Adlerstein
The Apalachicola Times

Franklin County’s unemployment picture continued to improve last month, as the jobless rate dropped by nearly one-half of 1 percentage point.

According to preliminary numbers released Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in September was 4.4 percent, down by four-tenths of 1 percentage point, from the August rate of 4.8 percent.

Career South Gulf Coast

This drop in joblessness, which followed a drop of nearly 2 percentage points in August, came as 15 people left the unemployment line, which now numbers 196.

The labor force in September rose by six workers, from 4,414 in August to 4,420 last month. The workforce remains smaller than one year ago, when it was at 4,717, the jobless rolls were smaller at 136, and the unemployment rate, at 2.9 percent, was better than it is today.

The unemployment rate in the county was better than in either Bay County or Gulf County, both at 4.6 percent.

The unemployment rate in the tri-county CareerSource Gulf Coast region (Bay, was 4.6 percent in September, 1.5 percentage points worse than the region's year ago rate of 3.1 percent.

The region's September unemployment rate was 3.0 percentage points lower than the state rate of 7.6 percent. The labor force was 92,071, down 4,099, or about 4.3 percent, over the year. There were 4,212 unemployed residents in the region.

In September, nonagricultural employment in the Panama City metro area was 77,900, a decrease of 3,100 jobs (-3.8 percent) over the year.

The industries gaining in jobs over the year were mining, logging, and construction (+700 jobs) and professional and business services (+100 jobs).

The leisure and hospitality (-2,500 jobs); trade, transportation, and utilities (-800 jobs); financial activities (-200 jobs); government; (-100 jobs); manufacturing (-100 jobs); education and health services (-100 jobs); and information (-100 jobs) industries lost jobs over the year.

“While there has been a loss of 3,100 jobs and a reduced labor force, the regional economy still seems to be moving in the right direction with many individuals going back to work and a lower unemployment rate over last month,” said CareerSource Gulf Coast Executive Director Kim Bodine. “Construction is booming with an additional 700 jobs over this time last year.

“It is a positive sign for our economy that our regional unemployment rate continues to decrease and is at a rate lower than state and national rates,” she said. “We are now nearing the holiday season and anticipate more employment opportunities to arise with seasonal hiring.”