Florida jobless rate drops below U.S. rate; Gainesville rate ticks up

Published: Monday, March 18, 2013 at 4:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 18, 2013 at 4:56 p.m.

Florida’s unemployment rate dropped below the national rate in January for the first time in five years.

The statewide jobless rate dropped to 7.8 percent compared with the U.S. rate of 7.9 percent, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

It was the first time since January 2008 Florida had a lower rate than the U.S. The rate was also the lowest in Florida since November 2008.

Florida’s January rate of 7.8 percent was down from 7.9 percent in December and 9.2 percent in January 2012. It represented 740,000 jobless out of a labor force of 9,422,000. The U.S. jobless rate was 7.9 percent in January compared with 7.8 percent in December and 8.3 percent in January 2012.

Florida added 15,400 jobs over the month and 127,500 over the year, an annual growth rate of 1.7 percent compared with national job growth of 1.5 percent.

Industry sectors responsible for job gains included motor vehicle and parts dealers, food services and drinking places, employment services, ambulatory health care services, construction of buildings, membership associations and organizations, real estate, and transportation equipment manufacturing. Sectors losing jobs were in local government and telecommunications.

The January rate in the Gainesville Metropolitan Statistical Area ticked up to 6.1 percent from a revised 6.0 percent in December and was down from 7.2 percent in January 2012. Estimates from a household survey showed 131,449 people with jobs, a drop of 2,736 from December, while the number of unemployed was up by 33 to 8,605.

Local numbers are not seasonally adjusted and can reflect seasonal fluctuations because of holidays and school year schedules, among other reasons.

Since January 2012, the number of people with jobs in the Gainesville area has increased by 2,068 while the number of unemployed has dropped by 1,402.

The rate for the Gainesville MSA — consisting of Alachua and Gilchrist counties — was the second lowest of 23 metro areas, behind only Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin at 6.0 percent.

The revised Gainesville and Florida jobless rates for December improved just from an adjustment in the base numbers used to estimate employment and unemployment numbers as part of an annual revision that factors in re-employment assistance tax records, new population numbers and other economic data. Florida’s December rate, originally reported at 8.0 percent in December, was revised to 7.9 percent.

The Gainesville area’s December rate was revised from 6.2 percent to 6.0 percent, with the number of employed revised upward from 128,186 to 134,185 and the number of unemployed dropping from 8,572 to 8,464.

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