Gainesville, state jobless rates inch upward for month

Published: Friday, June 20, 2014 at 2:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 20, 2014 at 2:03 p.m.

Gainesville’s unemployment rate rose from April to May as more people were jobless and even more people left the labor force, while the statewide rate was up as a result of lost jobs and a growing labor force, according to numbers released Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

The jobless rate in the Gainesville Metropolitan Statistical Area — consisting of Alachua and Gilchrist counties — rose to 4.9 percent in May from 4.4 percent in April, reflecting 6,915 unemployed out of a labor force of 141,622. The number of people classified as unemployed rose by 615, though there were a total of 3,180 fewer people with jobs as the overall labor force shrank by 2,565 people, according to a household survey.

The smaller labor force could reflect seasonal changes that come with the end of the school year, particularly as college students who leave jobs are no longer counted as part of the labor force. The biggest losses were in leisure and hospitality and state government jobs, according to an employer survey.

A year-over-year comparison that factors out seasonal fluctuations showed positive job trends. Gainesville’s May jobless rate of 4.9 percent was down from 5.5 percent in May 2013, reflecting 2,817 more people with jobs and 788 fewer people without jobs for a total labor force that grew by 2,029 people.

The biggest annual gains were in education and health services, with 1,100 more jobs, and retail trade (200), partially offset by 300 fewer jobs in mining, logging and construction.

Gainesville’s 4.9 percent rate was the second lowest among 23 state metro areas, behind only Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin at 4.4 percent.

Florida’s unemployment rate rose from 6.2 percent in April to 6.3 percent in May, as 17,900 jobs were lost and the total labor force grew by 24,000 people to 9,632,000. The rate was 7.5 percent in May 2013.

The U.S. rate remained at 6.3 percent from April to May and was 7.5 percent in May 2013.

Rebecca Rust, chief economist of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, noted in a statement that the state jobless rate has declined or held steady over the month for 43 of the past 45 months.

“Minor fluctuations month to month are to be expected as people move in and out of the labor force for a variety of reasons,” she said.

The loss of 17,900 jobs in May follows an upwardly revised gain of 34,900 in April.

Rust also noted that the labor force has increased for five straight months.

“This economic indicator can be a sign of optimism as more people are entering the labor force with confidence in their prospects for finding employment,” she said.

Job losses over the month were largest in sectors that included food services and drinking places, accommodation, construction, business support services, accounting, legal services, and arts, entertainment and recreation.

The number of jobs was up 218,800 over May 2013, partially because of increases in food and beverage stores, employment services, food services and drinking places, specialty trade contractors, ambulatory health care services, insurance carriers, fabricated metal product manufacturing, membership associations, telecommunications and state government.

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