Area jobless rate drops to 5.4 percent

People attend the annual Gainesville Job Fair at the Martin Luther King Jr. Multipurpose Recreation Center on Sept. 10.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, September 20, 2013 at 3:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 20, 2013 at 3:06 p.m.

The jobs that went away over the summer are back as the unemployment rate in the Gainesville area dropped back below 6 percent in August, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday.

The jobless rate was 5.4 percent in August, down from 6.0 percent in both June and July. The rate was 5.3 percent in May.

The Florida rate dipped to 7.0 percent — the lowest since September 2008 — after being stuck at 7.1 percent for three straight months, while the U.S. rate dropped from 7.4 percent to 7.3 percent.

In the Gainesville Metropolitan Statistical Area — consisting of Alachua and Gilchrist counties — the 5.4 percent rate represented 7,739 jobless out of a labor force of 142,325, compared with 8,593 jobless in July, according to household surveys. The unemployment rate was 6.9 percent in August 2012.

An employer survey showed 3,700 more jobs for growth of 1.6 percent over the year, equal to the U.S. job growth rate.

Florida saw job growth of 1.8 percent over the year, but a dip of 0.1 percent — or 4,700 fewer jobs — from July to August despite the lower unemployment rate, reflecting a shrinking labor pool as discouraged workers stop looking for work or return to school.

In Gainesville, education and health services led the way with 1,300 more jobs over the year, followed by 1,100 in both retail trade and leisure/hospitality. The only losses were in federal and local government jobs.

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