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County unemployment rate improved

Published:   |   Updated: April 4, 2013 at 09:34 AM

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There are 2,114 more employed Hernando County residents now than this time last year, according to a Florida Department of Economic Opportunity report, although the majority of those jobs appear to be outside of the county.

Department of Labor data shows a workforce growth of 169 workers in Hernando County, and the Department of Economic Opportunity report shows Hernando’s unemployment rate decreased by 1,945, or a 3.2 percent decrease last February when the unemployment rate was 12.2 percent.

“A significant component of our workforce has always been outside,” said Director of Business Development Mike McHugh, who also serves on the Pasco-Hernando Workforce Board.

“Although we’re making inroads, and that’s certainly a part of who we are, that’s not going to change overnight.”

“The fact that we see more of these people working is going to benefit the community, and help our economy drastically.”

The unemployment rate for Hernando County is 9 percent, according to the report.

The report, released March 29, suggests the state’s once-high unemployment tide is receding with a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate approximate to that of the national average at 7.7 percent for February, the lowest since October 2008 when it was 7.4 percent.

Department of Labor data on re-employment assistance claims filed in Hernando from January 2012 to January 2013 also corroborates the county’s increasing workforce, with 123 fewer initial claims filed.

Re-employment assistance will continue to be provided at a maximum assistance of $275 a week for 19 to 23 weeks for claims filed on or after Jan. 1, according to the department.

The report also shows the state’s total unemployment rate for February was down 0.2 percentage point from the revised January rate of 7.9 percent, and 1.3 percentage points lower than the rate of 9.0 percent a year ago.

Despite the improved figures, however, consumer confidence remains low, according to a February Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Bureau of Labor Market Statistics report.

The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, has been steadily attracting workforce talent, tying the Orlando metro area for the largest over-the-year growth rate of all large Florida metro areas.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the college-educated population in the Tampa Bay metro area grew from 367,507 in 2000 to 513,182 in 2010, an increase of 39.6 percent.

“We will always be a reflection of local and regional business activity,” McHugh said.

“We’ve always had that dynamic, and we’re not going to change. The workforce operates on a regional level, and not just one county.”

While it’s apparent between Hernando-Pasco lines, McHugh said, that reality is perhaps more clearly demonstrated in the daily commutes between Pinellas and Hillsborough.

“There’s a couple hundred thousand that commute every day between Pinellas and Hillsborough, and it’s just a dynamic to this area,” McHugh said.

The Tampa metro area had a population of 2,818,165 in 2012, the highest population out of all the 22 metro areas in the state, according to the Florida Legislative Office of Economic and Demographic Research.

In December 2012, the four counties had a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 8 percent, which represented 106,437 unemployed people out of a civilian labor force of 1,224,438.

December 2012 industry employment in the metro area amounted to 1,175,000 jobs, growing by 21,000 jobs over the year, and had the largest over-the-year job gain of all the large Florida metro areas.

U.S. Department of Commerce and Bureau of Economic Analysis data shows the largest industries based on contribution to total industry employment in December 2012 were trade, transportation and utilities at 18.6 percent; professional and business services at 17.4 percent; education and health services at 15.7 percent; government at 13.5 percent; and leisure and hospitality at 11.5 percent.

Registered nurse job ads continue to be the number one job title for ads in the state, according to a February Florida Department of Economic Opportunity report on labor market trends.

After hitting a low in May 2009 with 9,150 ads, help-wanted online ads for registered nursing jobs have increased 90 percent, to 17,368 ads in January 2013 in Florida, or a 24 percent increase in job ads from January 2012, when there were 13,993 ads.

The top major certifications desired for registered nurse are certified registered nurse, basic life support and advanced cardiac life support with certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and pediatric advanced life support.

“Health care has probably been the shining star of our community, and it has continued to grow in tough economic times,” McHugh said.

“Certainly both the quantity and quality of wages in the health care industry continue to go up, as do the numbers, and I think that’s been a great thing for us having such a high medical presence in our community.”

The occupation with the second most job ads in January 2013 in Florida was first-line supervisors/managers of retail sales workers, with 7,066 ads.

“Our manufacturing sector has been thriving, and I’d point to that as another area that’s continued to do well, and has been contributing,” McHugh said.

The unemployment and job growth rates are estimates, which are primarily based on surveys created and mandated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in cooperation with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

The unemployment rate is derived from Florida household surveys conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, and the job growth rate is derived from Florida employer surveys conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We’re seeing year over year the positives,” McHugh said.

“Our employment levels have stayed about the same, and our workforce is coming slightly up, so our numbers are not coming from a shrinking workforce but real figures in employment.”


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