The region, and county, unemployment rate continued its now four-month fall in May.

 

The region, and county, unemployment rate continued its now four-month fall in May, dropping to 4.0 percent for the three-county region of Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties.

In Gulf County, the jobless rate is 3.5 percent, tied with Franklin for lowest among the three counties.

That is down from 3.6 percent in April and more than half a percentage point below the 4.1 percent jobless rate of May 2016.

The four-month fall, after a three-month increase during the winter, reflects regional trends.

The county’s unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in January.

The region-wide jobless rate last month was 0.4 percent below May of last year and was equal to the state’s unemployment rate of 4.0.

Out of a labor force of 101,156, there were 3,996 unemployed in the region, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

The Panama City Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes Bay and Gulf counties, added 1,100 jobs in May.

“With unemployment numbers at or below 4 percent, we are seeing signs that the local job market is tightening, making it more challenging for employers to recruit and hire workers,” said Kim Bodine, Executive Director of CareerSource Gulf Coast.

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.

Industries gaining in jobs in the region over the year were: trade, transportation and utilities (up 300 jobs); professional and business services (up 500 jobs); mining, logging and construction (up 400 jobs); education and health services (an increase of 200 jobs); government (up 400 jobs); and financial activities (up 200 jobs).

Losing jobs was the sectors of leisure and hospitality (down 600 jobs) and manufacturing (down 200 jobs).

“Most of our industries show employment growth, adding 1,100 jobs over the year,” Bodine said.

“The two exceptions include manufacturing and leisure and hospitality. We are aware of some recent layoffs in the manufacturing sector due to the timing of contracts, but we question the loss of 600 jobs in leisure and hospitality, especially since the (bed tax collection) estimates indicate almost a 12 percent average increase over last year for this calendar year.”

Bodine continued that in past years reports showed a decline in hospitality jobs, but after annual reports are issues and results “trued up” the jobs have tended to be there at year’s end.

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.