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Hernando’s unemployment rate drops, but so does labor force

Published:   |   Updated: May 20, 2014 at 05:45 PM

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Hernando County’s unemployment rate plummeted in April, falling from 8.5 percent a month earlier to 7.6 percent.

But at least one employment specialist said people shouldn’t read too much into the new numbers released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). Every county in Florida showed a dramatic dip in joblessness last month.

Out of a labor force in Hernando County of 62,964, there were 58,151 people employed in April. The previous month’s labor force stood at 63,556 with 58,158 people employed.

David Hamilton, operations manager for the Pasco-Hernando Workforce Board, said the sharp reduction in month-to-month numbers is attributed to a reduction in the work force.

“That means the number of people who were counted in the work force, and that’s defined as people working or looking for work, had to significantly reduce and it did,” Hamilton said.

In Hernando County, there were 592 less people counted in the work force.

“It is never good when your labor force reduces and your employment does not gain,” Hamilton said.

The only bright spot, he said, was that Hernando County’s unemployment rate was better than one year ago when it was 8.9 percent.

When the county gets that number down to 5 or 6 percent, that will be time to celebrate, Hamilton added. But right now, he said people shouldn’t read too much into the number.

“I was not happy with this job report,” he said.

The county had the fifth highest unemployment rate of all 67 Florida counties, with Hendry coming in the highest (8.4 percent) and Walton the lowest (3.2 percent).

Meanwhile, Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped to 6.2 percent in April, down from 6.3 percent.

Gov. Rick Scott said in a prepared statement that the lower jobless rate numbers across the state indicate his economic initiatives have led to the creation of 33,000 more private sector jobs. Florida, he said, leads the nation in job growth.

However, a DEO press release said many of the counties with the lowest unemployment rates were those with relatively high proportions of government employment.

Here were the April unemployment rates for surrounding counties (with the previous month in parenthesis):

♦ Citrus County: 6.9 percent (7.7 percent)

♦ Sumter County: 4.4 percent (5.0 percent)

♦ Pasco County: 6.5 percent (7.2 percent)

♦ Hillsborough County: 5.6 percent (6.3 percent)

♦ Pinellas County: 5.7 percent (6.3 percent)

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