Gainesville-area jobless rate improved to 5.2% in March

Published: Friday, April 19, 2013 at 12:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 19, 2013 at 12:06 p.m.

Gainesville’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.2 percent in March, the lowest level in more than four years, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday.

That was down from 5.6 percent in February and 6.7 percent in March 2012 in the Gainesville Metropolitan Statistical Area, consisting of Alachua and Gilchrist counties.

Florida’s rate dropped to 7.5 percent in March, a tick below the U.S. rate of 7.6 percent. The Florida rate was 7.8 percent in February and 8.9 percent in March 2012, compared with U.S. rates of 7.7 percent in February and 8.2 percent in March 2012.

Florida’s March rate was the lowest since hitting 7.4 percent in October 2008 and reflected 706,000 jobless out of a labor force of 9,411,000. The state added 32,700 jobs over the month and 141,300 over the year, an annual growth rate of 1.9 percent. The number of jobs in the U.S. grew 1.4 percent over the year.

“In a little over two years since I’ve taken office, we’ve created more than 320,000 private sector jobs — and we are now closing in on the halfway point to our goal of creating 700,000 jobs in seven years,” Gov. Rick Scott said in announcing the jobs report from Naples, according to a news release.

At 45,300 jobs, leisure and hospitality had the most gains over the year in Florida.

Within the larger industry sectors, gains were fueled by hiring in food services and drinking places, motor vehicle and parts dealers, services to buildings and dwellings, ambulatory health care services, construction of buildings, real estate, and membership associations and organizations.

Gainesville’s 5.2 percent rate reflected 7,362 unemployed out of a labor force of 142,170, compared with 8,002 unemployed out of 142,635 in February, based on estimates from a household survey. The number of people with jobs rose from 134,633 to 134,808 over the month.

Estimates from a separate employer survey showed an increase of 2,500 jobs over the year for growth of 1.9 percent. That reflected an increase of 3,100 private sector jobs while government lost 600 jobs — 200 each for local, state and federal employers.

The biggest gains came in leisure and hospitality, which includes hotels and restaurants, with 1,000 jobs; education and health services, with 900 jobs; professional and business services, with 600 jobs; and mining, logging and construction, with 300 jobs.

Information, which includes telecommunications, publishing and broadcasting, lost 100 jobs to become the only private sector category in Gainesville to decrease.

Gainesville’s rate last hit 5.2 percent in November 2008. That was up from a low of 2.5 percent in February and March 2006 before peaking at 8.2 percent in January and February 2010.

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