The unemployment rate in Gulf County rose by one-tenth of 1 percent in December but remains .3 percent below the same month in 2015.

According to information from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the county unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in December, up from 4.3 in October.

Franklin County, at 4.3 percent, has the lowest unemployment rate in the CareerSource Gulf Coast region which also includes Bay, which was at 5.2 percent unemployment.

The region unemployment rate was 5.2, up one-tenth of a percent from the same period on 2015.

In the region, out of a labor force of 96,085 there were 4,956 counted as unemployed.

Overall, for the three-county region, job growth outpaced the state in the leisure/hospitality and government sectors.

It is worth noting that the unemployment rate does not reflect those unemployed who are no longer receiving unemployment benefits nor does it include those who have stopped seeking employment.

“Historically between December and January our unemployment rate rises and there are less employment opportunities before the tourism season begins to ramp up,” said Kim Bodine, Executive Director of CareerSource Gulf Coast.

“There are seasonal trends. In February, we should start to see the unemployment rate lower, as we expect to see hiring in leisure and hospitality and retail as employers prepare for our tourism season.”

Those sectors growing jobs over the year included leisure and hospitality (up 600 jobs), education and health services (up more than 300 jobs), government (an increase of 500 jobs), financial activities (up 100 jobs) and professional and business services (up 200 jobs)

Manufacturing jobs dropped by 200 and the trade, transportation and utilities sectors lost a combined 800 jobs.

The sector including mining, logging and construction industries remained unchanged.

CareerSource Gulf Coast provides services to job seekers and employers in Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties. During July, the region’s Panama City Job Center assisted more than 1,600 walk-in customers and provided services to more than 400 employers.

CareerSource Gulf Coast operates offices in all three counties. Visit www.careersourcegc.com to learn more about professional workforce development and job placement services, all offered free of charge.

One of the largest hiring events of the year is just weeks away. The 30th annual Bay County Job Fair is Friday, Feb. 20 at Haney Technical Center.