Gainesville-area jobless rate down to 4.8 percent

In this Sept. 10, 2013 file photo, people attend the annual Gainesville Job Fair at the Martin Luther King Jr. Multipurpose Recreation Center. Area employment numbers were released Friday.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, January 24, 2014 at 12:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 24, 2014 at 6:05 p.m.

Gainesville’s unemployment rate dropped in December, but that was the result of a shrinking labor force since November rather than job growth.

Meanwhile, job gains resulted in lower jobless rates at the state and national levels.

According to a Friday report from the state Department of Economic Opportunity, the December unemployment rate for the Gainesville Metropolitan Statistical Area — consisting of Alachua and Gilchrist counties — dropped to 4.8 percent from 4.9 percent in November and 6.0 percent in December 2012. December’s rate reflected 6,836 unemployed out of a labor force of 142,789.

The number of people with and without jobs both dropped as the labor force shrank by about 3,000 people over the month.

Labor force fluctuations can result from seasonal changes such as holiday employment or school seasons, and from jobless people who have stopped looking for work and are no longer counted.

The Florida rate dropped to 6.2 percent in December from 6.4 percent in November and 7.9 percent in December 2012. The U.S. rate was 6.7 percent in December, down from 7.0 percent in November and 7.9 percent in December 2012.

Florida gained 14,100 jobs over the month as the state jobless rate dropped to the lowest level since June 2008, when it was 6.0 percent. Over the year, the number of jobs was up by 192,900 for a 2.6 percent growth rate, compared with 1.6 percent nationwide.

Gainesville’s growth rate over the year was 1.4 percent, with 1,900 more jobs.

According to estimates from employer surveys, sectors gaining the most jobs in Gainesville were retail trade at 700, followed by 500 each in professional and business services, and education and health services.

Government was the only sector to lose jobs in Gainesville and statewide, with 900 fewer local and federal jobs in Gainesville. State government employment in Gainesville remained flat.

Statewide job increases were partially due to gains in food and beverage stores, employment services, specialty trade contractors, food services and drinking places, ambulatory health care services, real estate, personal and laundry services, publishing industries, and fabricated metal product manufacturing.

The 0.3 point drop in the U.S. rate since November was the result of both job gains and a shrinking labor force.

While the number of discouraged job seekers who dropped out of the labor pool is not known, 63 percent of U.S. adults age 16 and older nationwide were employed or looking for work in December compared with 60 percent in Florida.

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