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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015

Jobless rate rises slightly in June


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Hernando County’s unemployment rate was 7.9 percent in June, up from 7.7 percent in May.

Out of a possible labor force of 63,610, 58,600 people had jobs in June, according to statistics released Friday by Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity. The previous month’s potential labor force stood at 63,459.

One year ago, the unemployment rate in Hernando County was 9.5 percent.

“I’m very concerned about the unemployment rate and working hard to overcome it,” said County Administrator Len Sossamon, who is also the county’s economic development director.

Hernando had the eighth highest unemployment rate among Florida’s 67 counties, with Hendry County the highest (10.6 percent) and Walton the lowest (3.4 percent).

David Hamilton, operations manager for the Pasco-Hernando Workforce Board, said the June report wasn’t surprising because it maintains the trend from the previous month.

“There are more people entering the labor force,” Hamilton said. “That does speak to confidence. This (report) didn’t shock me either way. It wasn’t a bad report; it wasn’t a great report. It’s just continuing on.”

Sossamon said he and county commissioners on Tuesday will consider three economic incentive packages that together could bring 73 jobs to Hernando County.

One of those projects involves Barrette Outdoor Living, which makes wood, vinyl and aluminum fencing, steel and vinyl railings and other outdoor products.

Cleveland-based Barrette manufactures and distributes more than 6,000 items across the United States and Canada to specialty retailers, home centers and lumberyards.

Barrette recently acquired Alumi-Guard Inc. and occupies a 210,000- square-foot manufacturing facility at the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport & Technology Center. The Brooksville company now employs 131 full-time workers and is eligible for the local job creation incentive program because it intends to hire 40 more people during the next 12 months at an average annual wage of $34,911.

Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.2 percent in June, down slightly from the May 2014 rate of 6.3 percent, and down 1.2 percentage points from 7.4 percent in June 2013.

There were 597,000 jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 9,626,000. The U.S. unemployment rate was 6.1 percent in June. Prior to June, Florida’s unemployment rate had been less than or equal to the national rate for 13 consecutive months.

Here are the June unemployment rates for nearby counties (with May percentages in parenthesis):

♦ Citrus County: 7.5 percent (7.4 percent)

♦ Sumter County: 4.8 percent (5.0 percent)

♦ Pasco County: 6.9 percent (6.8 percent)

♦ Hillsborough County: 6.2 percent (6.0 percent)

♦ Pinellas County: 6.0 percent (6.0 percent)

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