A winning streak continued with the county unemployment rate, which slipped under 3 percent in October, the lowest level in 17 years.

A winning streak continued with the county unemployment rate, which slipped under 3 percent in October, the lowest level in 17 years.

Gulf County unemployment was 2.8 percent in October, tied with Franklin County for the lowest in the CareerSource Gulf Coast region which also includes Bay County.

Bay County unemployment was 3.3 percent in October, putting the region at 3.2 percent.

As a region, unemployment was 4.7 percent last year at this time.

In October, non-agricultural employment within the Panama City MSA, which includes Gulf County, was 85,500, an increase of 1,900 jobs, 2.3 percent, over the prior year.

The Gulf County county jobless rate has now fallen in eight of the past nine months, according to statistics from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

“This is the lowest Gulf County unemployment rate for October that we’ve seen in at least 17 years,” said Kim Bodine, Executive Director of CareerSource Gulf Coast. “The closest of record since 2000 is October 2005, when unemployment was at 3 percent.”

The region’s unemployment of 3.2 percent was below the state rate of 3.6 percent.

The labor force in the region was up 1,369 (1.4 percent) compared to a year ago.

There were 3,223 unemployed in the region.

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.

The Panama City MSA had the third-fastest annual job growth rate compared to all Florida metro areas in mining, logging and construction, which was up 10 percent.

“We attribute this to the large amount of construction going on in the region,” Bodine said. “It’s more good news for job seekers with those skilled trades.”

Gulf County is showing forward momentum in new residential construction.

As of the end of October 2016, the county had issued 89 permits for new single-family home construction with a total valuation of $24.6 million.

As of the end of October 2017, 98 single-family permits carrying a valuation of just under $26 million have been issued.

Even though the state and region have reported job losses in leisure/hospitality, tourism is up across the region.

Gulf County was up 12 percent in bed tax collections compared to the prior year, eclipsing $2 million in annual revenue for the first time.

Franklin County showed a 3.6 percent increase in bed tax collections and Bay County realized 13.50 percent growth in the same measurement.

For the CareerGulf Coast region, industries gaining in jobs in the region over the year were: professional and business services (up 600 jobs); mining, logging and construction (up 500 jobs); education and health services (an increase of 100 jobs); government (up 400 jobs); financial activities (up 200 jobs); and trade, transportation and utilities (up 800 jobs).

According to the DEO, manufacturing sector (down 100 jobs) and leisure and hospitality (down 600 jobs) lost jobs year-over-year.

Information and other services industries were unchanged year-over-year.

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.