Still a full point lower than last year



The county unemployment rate stumbled higher in December, though it remains a full point below that same month in 2016.

The unemployment rate moved to 3.6 percent in December, up from 3.4 in November but well below the 4.6 percent of December 2016.

It was the second-straight month the unemployment rate went up after moving down in eight of the prior nine months.

The county had the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years in October, at just under 3 percent.

The region, which also includes Bay and Franklin counties, saw unemployment rise to 3.9 percent, also more than a percentage point below the same month the prior year.

The statewide unemployment in December was 3.7 percent; nationwide the rate was 4.1 percent.

Bay County’s unemployment rose from 3.8 percent in November to 3.9 last month and in Franklin County the unemployment rate increased from 2.2 percent in November to 3.3 percent.

Out of a labor force of 97,047, which was up 0.7 percent from last year, there were 3,759 unemployed residents in the region.

“Gulf County has an unemployment rate that’s a full percentage point better than last year at this time,” said Kim Bodine, Executive Director of CareerSource Gulf Coast. “It’s also good to see the tremendous improvement in bed tax numbers.”

According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the leisure and hospitality industy continues to bleed jobs, more than 600, over the past year.

Nonetheless, bed tax collections in November were up 27 percent compared to November 2016, according to Kelli Godwin, Executive Director of the Gulf County Tourist Development Council.

Godwin pointed to a holiday-oriented social media campaign.

“This is the first time since at least 2012 that a holiday-type campaign was done,” Godwin said. “I also heard from some management companies that they were able to increase some of their rates.

“Hopefully this will translate into positive December numbers as well.”

Construction is another positive on the Gulf County economic front, Bodine said.

New residential permitting in Gulf County was up through November 2017, with 107 new single-family permits issued compared to 99 through all of 2016.

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 600 jobs); government (up 500 jobs); financial activities (up 200 jobs); and trade, transportation and utilities (up 200 jobs).

According to the DEO, the manufacturing, education and health services, and leisure and hospitality sectors were unchanged year over year.

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.

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

Hiring events

*The Bay County Job Fair, in its 31st year, will be held 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. CT Friday, Feb. 9 at Haney Technical Center.

The 14th annual Career Expo is set for 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. CT April 4 in the Holley Center at Florida State University’s Panama City campus.