Area jobless rate holds steady at 5.1%
Published: Friday, March 28, 2014 at 12:25 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 28, 2014 at 6:01 p.m.
The local and state unemployment rates were unchanged in February, while the U.S. rate ticked up 0.1 percentage points, the state Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday.
The rate in the Gainesville Metropolitan Statistical Area remained at 5.1 percent from January to February as a growing number of people with jobs kept pace with a growing number of unemployed. The rate was 5.8 percent in February 2013.
The Florida jobless rate in February remained at 6.2 percent from an upwardly revised January rate, and it was 7.9 percent in February 2013.
The U.S. rate was 6.7 percent in February compared with 6.6 percent in January and 7.7 percent in February 2013.
Household surveys showed that the number of people with jobs grew from 133,799 to 135,307 from January to February in the Gainesville metro area — consisting of Alachua and Gilchrist counties — while the number of people without jobs grew from 7,130 to 7,208.
An employer survey showed 2,100 more jobs over the year, growth of 1.6 percent. The education and health services sector saw the most growth with 1,100 more jobs, followed by leisure and hospitality with 900 more jobs. Mining, logging and construction saw the most job losses at 400, followed by state government, down 200, and federal government, down 100.
Gainesville's rate was the second-lowest of 23 metro areas in Florida, behind Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin at 5.0 percent.
Florida's 6.2 percent unemployment rate reflected 588,000 jobless out of a labor force of 9,515,000, equaling the lowest rate since June 2008.
Seasonally adjusted nonagricultural employment was up by 33,400 jobs over the month and 211,500 over the year for an annual growth rate of 2.8 percent compared with 1.6 percent nationwide.
Florida's job gains were partially due to increases in food and beverage stores, services to buildings and dwellings, specialty trade contractors, food services and drinking places, ambulatory health care services, insurance carriers and related activities, fabricated metal product manufacturing, personal and laundry services, and telecommunications.
Job losses were reported in federal and state government.
University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith is forecasting state job growth of 2.5 percent this year, but she said the pace of decline in the unemployment rate will dramatically decline as more people enter to the labor force.
A low labor force participation rate of eligible adults — 59.6 percent in December 2013 — helped the jobless rate drop quickly, Snaith reported in this week's Florida & Metro Forecast March 2014. The labor force grew an average of 0.8 percent from 2010 to 2013 and is forecast to grow an average of 1.6 percent from 2014 to 2017.
Still, he forecast the unemployment rate to drop to 5.4 percent by the end of 2017.