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Friday, Mar 27, 2015

Jobless rate down in April


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Hernando County’s unemployment rate dropped by .4 percentage points from March to April, according to a Florida Department of Economic Opportunity report.

Released Friday, the report shows that since this time last year unemployment has decreased by 2.7 percentage points, or from 10.8 percent unemployment last April to 8.1 percent this April. Hernando County still has the eighth highest unemployment rate in the state.

“The good news is that, according to the numbers released, the drop in the unemployment rate is due to job creation, and not a decline in work force,” said Pasco Hernando Workforce Board Operations Manager David Hamilton. “We’re seeing our work force grow and our unemployment at 8.1 percent is still historically high, but we were over 15 percent (2010) at one point, so it’s a positive development.”

In comparison, just south in Pasco County the unemployment rate is 7.3, down from 7.6 percent last month, and down from 9.8 percent this time last year.

Statewide, Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.2 percent in April 2013, the lowest since September 2008, when it was 7 percent. The April rate was down 0.3 percentage points from the March rate of 7.5 percent and was 1.7 percentage points lower than the year-ago rate of 8.9 percent. There were 680,000 jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 9,411,000.

The U.S. April unemployment rate was 7.5 percent, when Florida’s unemployment rate was 0.3 percentage point lower than the U.S. rate, and was below the national rate for the second consecutive month.

When news of the most recent unemployment figures broke Friday, Gov. Rick Scott was in Tampa signing House Bill 7007, allowing manufacturers to buy new equipment without paying sales tax beginning next year and for a duration of three years.

The governor’s visit to Tampa corresponds directly to the results of the most recent unemployment figures. The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area, or MSA, which includes Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, and Hernando counties, led all Florida metro areas in over-the-year job creation, with a gain of more than 35,400 private sector jobs.

The MSA also experienced a 1.9 percentage point decline in the unemployment rate over the last year, down to 6.7 percent from 8.6 percent in April 2012.

Since December 2010, the metro area’s unemployment rate has declined 4.7 percentage points, dropping from 11.4 percent to 6.7 percent.

The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater MSA led the metro areas in gains in:

Education and health services with 9,600 jobs added;

Professional and business services with 8,800 jobs added;

Trade, transportation and utilities with 7,700 jobs added;

Construction with 4,000 jobs added.

The specific sectors of the local economy that have seen growth have not yet been detailed, Hamilton said, but county data should be made available following the state report.

“We got more people getting jobs, not more people dropping out of the work force,” Hamilton said. “Right now there’s state data but not specific data for counties.”

Job growth aside, the four-county MSA ranks 13th in the state for unemployment, which most current figures show to be 6.7 percent.

This time last year the unemployment rate was 8.6 percent.

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