Hiring sign in front of a warehouse. [Photo by Ernie Journeys]
Florida’s unemployment rate held at 2.7 percent in August for a second consecutive month.
The state Department of Commerce on Friday announced that an estimated 303,000 Floridians qualified as unemployed in August, 8,000 more than in July, while the labor force grew by 41,000 to 11.12 million.
Jimmy Heckman, the department’s chief of workforce statistics and economic research, said the numbers “signal a healthy labor market that continues to grow and attract new workers.”
The figures reflect conditions in mid-August, before the Category 3 Hurricane Idalia made landfall Aug. 30 in Taylor County and caused widespread damage in rural North Florida.
In a news release, Commerce Secretary Alex Kelly credited “Florida’s economic stability” to “continued job creation in service industries that generate revenue for businesses and communities and increases in housing.”
The latest numbers were driven, in part, by education and health-services jobs, which increased by 6.3 percent over the past year, while positions in the leisure and hospitality sectors were up 3.5 percent in the same time.
Manufacturing jobs grew by 3.2 percent, while construction jobs were up 0.7 percent over the past year and increased by 500 from July to August.
“This is the third consecutive month of job growth for the construction sector after a series of job losses earlier in the year,” Heckman said.
Construction has been slowed this year by rising mortgage rates that have affected demand for new homes.
Last week, Amy Baker, coordinator of the Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research, told lawmakers that conditions have shifted “back to normal” as the economy has regained “its footing” after sustaining damage early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
But she added that economists worry about the state having to handle more than one crisis in different geographical areas, a protracted federal government shutdown or a Federal Reserve “miscue” that could worsen inflation.
With the national unemployment rate at 3.8 percent in August, the U.S. Department of Labor noted that the participation rate in the workforce hit 62.8 percent, the highest since just before the pandemic.
The Department of Labor on Wednesday reported consumer prices rose 3.7 percent in August from a year earlier, in large part because of increases in gas prices, along with food and housing costs.
Florida also had a 2.7 percent unemployment rate in August 2022, when the workforce stood at 10.8 million. The unemployment rate this year was 2.6 percent from January through June, increasing to 2.7 percent in July.
The metropolitan statistical area that includes Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach had the state’s lowest unemployment rate in August at 2.6 percent
The Panama City area was at 2.8 percent, while the area that includes Orlando, Kissimmee and Sanford was at 3.1 percent. The Jacksonville, Pensacola and Tampa Bay areas were at 3.2 percent, while the Gainesville area was at 3.3 percent and the Naples area stood at 3.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the Homosassa Springs and Sebring areas were at 4.8 percent, and The Villages area was at 4.6 percent.
The statewide unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted, while the metro rates are not.