Citrus County lowers joblessness to 4.8 percent for September

Jobs artThe Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) reported on Friday that Citrus County's jobless number for September 2017 has been lowered from 5.9 percent in August to 4.8 percent for September.

Citrus County still remains the fourth highest in the state behind Hendry County (8.6%),  Hardee County (6.0%) and Glades County (5.3%).

Even so, rates across the state's counties show a definite trend downward.

Regionally, the unemployment rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region was 4.2 percent in September, 2.0 percentage points lower than a year ago and nearly a full point lower than the previous month.

The labor force was 202,734, up 3,385 or 1.7 percent over the year, there were 194,208 working and 8,436 unemployed.

According to today’s release of the preliminary jobs report by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Levy County had the lowest unemployment rate at 3.6 percent, followed by Marion County at 4.0 percent and Citrus County at 4.8 percent.

The last time unemployment rates were this low, “Spider-Man 3” was raking it in at the box office, Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable” topped the charts, and “American Idol” was the number one show on television.

That was 2007 and the closest the region’s counties came to similar lows was May for Levy County at 3.7 percent and Marion County at 4.0 percent and June for Citrus County at 5.2 percent.

Rusty Skinner, CEO of CareerSource CLM, said the region hit the economic trifecta in September of expanded labor force, increased employment and lower unemployment, both over the month and over the year.

“The growth in both the Labor Force and employment across the region is a welcome sign showing our three counties may be finally recovering from the big recession,” he said, adding “we have had a lot of hiring activity spurred by economic development projects of our partner economic development organizations.”

Region wide, the labor force grew since August by 2,763 and over the year by 3,385; the number of those with jobs was 194,298, an increase of 4,562 over the month and 7,286 more than a year ago; and the number of jobless dropped by 1,799 compared to the previous month and by 3,901 compared to the previous year. 

In September, nonfarm employment in the Ocala metropolitan area was 102,800, an increase of 1,600 jobs or 1.6 percent over the year. The nonfarm employment in the Homosassa Springs MSA was 32,800.

DEO’s preliminary data for the area’s three counties shows that in September, Citrus County's labor force expanded over the month by 495 to 47,975, the number of employed increased by 1,007 to 45,669 and the number of those without jobs fell by 512 to 2,306. That is 1,006 more employed and 1,006 fewer unemployed compared to September 2016 when the jobless rate was 6.9 percent.

Levy County's labor force grew by 380 to 17,131, the number of employed rose by 524 to 16,519 and the number of unemployed dropped by 144 to 612. That’s 510 more employed and 284 fewer unemployed than a year ago when the jobless rate was 5.3 percent. 

Marion County saw its labor force expand by 1,888 to 137,628, the number of employed increased by 3,031 to 132,110 and the number of jobless dropped by 1,143 to 5,518. Over the year, when the jobless rate was 6.0 percent, the labor force grew by 3,159, the number of employed increased by 5,770 and the number of unemployed dropped by 2,611.

Among the counties, Citrus County held the fourth highest unemployment rate, Marion County dropped two spots to tie with Polk and Holmes counties for the 15th highest rate; and Levy County tied with seven other counties for the 27th highest rate at 3.6 percent, which is also the state’s not seasonally adjusted rate.

The Homosassa Springs metropolitan statistical area (Citrus County) returned to its ranking as the highest unemployment rate among Florida’s metros while the Ocala MSA dropped a notch to the sixth highest rate. 

In the Ocala MSA, industries gaining jobs over the year, and growing faster in the metro area than statewide, were mining, logging and construction (+500 jobs for a 7.0 percent job growth rate and the seventh fastest growth rate in the state); manufacturing (+300 jobs for a 3.8 percent job growth rate); “other services” (+100 jobs, a 3.1 percent increase); education and health services (+400 jobs for a 2.2 percent increase); and professional and business services (+100 jobs, an increase of 1.0 percent).

Other industries gaining jobs over the year were trade, transportation and utilities (+200 jobs) and government (+100 jobs).

Financial activities and leisure and hospitality industries were unchanged over the year while the information industry lost 100 jobs.

The October employment report will be released on Friday, Nov. 17.