January unemployment in Gulf, Franklin and Bay counties spiked, the first increase for the region in January compared to the prior year in five years.

January unemployment in Gulf, Franklin and Bay counties spiked, the first increase for the region in January compared to the prior year in five years.

The unemployment rate in Gulf County rose by 0.8 percent to 5.4 percent in January after minor increases the two prior months, according to data from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

The county unemployment rate is also up from the 5.1 percent rate of January 2016.

The numbers reflect the Gulf Coast CareerSource region-wide trends.

In Gulf, Franklin and Bay counties the January unemployment rate was 5.9 percent, up 0.4 percent from January 2016 and up 0.8 from December 2016.

Statewide and nationwide, unemployment rose in January.

The state unemployment rate moved from 4.7 percent in December 2016 to 5.2 percent and U.S. figures show an increase from 4.5 percent to 5.1 percent in the same period, according to CareerSource Gulf Coast.

Out of a labor force of 97,140 there were 5,731 unemployed residents in the three-county region.

Noteworthy is 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.

There was a brighter side to the numbers.

According to CareerSource Gulf Coast, the three-county region produced an increase of 800 employment opportunities between January 2016 and January 2017 and data, according to the annual U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), shows year-over-year increases in five major industries.

“It’s good to see the increases in a number of industries,” said Kim Bodine, Executive Director of CareerSource Gulf Coast. “Our overall momentum has been positive, although this is the first time in five years where we have seen even a slight increase in unemployment over last year for the month of January.”

According to the Florida Consumer Sentiment Index, the level of optimism about Florida residents was up 5.4 percent year-over year and up 0.5 for the month of January.

Residents were also more optimistic about their personal finances.

The BLS and DEO release January employment and unemployment estimates as well as revised historical data each March.

The benchmark revisions are standard in the estimation process and conducted in each state, according to Bodine.

According to CareerSource Gulf Coast, there are a number of hiring opportunities around the corner, including the April 12 Career Expo at the Florida State University Panama City campus.

There will also be recruitment events for GKN, which recently announced it was locating to Bay County.

“Information regarding GKN’s recruitment and hiring is coming soon, however, now is the perfect time to get ready for the process,” Bodine said. “Register in EmployFlorida.com; don’t just put the minimum profile information in our system.

“Take your time, and be detailed, especially when it comes to your background information.”

CareerSource Gulf Coast provides services to job seekers and employers in Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties.

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.