The downward fall of the county’s unemployment rate continued in May, according to statistics from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

The county’s unemployment rate in May was 3.1 percent, down from 3.2 in April and the 3.7 posted in May 2017.

The unemployment rate has fallen nearly a full percentage point since the 4.0 percent posted in February; the rate was 4.4 percent in January.

The unemployment rate in Florida was 3.8 percent in May; in the U.S. it was 3.6 percent.

The region, which also includes Bay and Franklin counties, saw unemployment remain at 3.2 percent overall in May, down from 3.9 in March and well below the 3.9 percent of May 2017.

The state unemployment rate for May was 3.8 percent, down 0.4 percent from 2017.

There were 398,000 jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 10.2 million.

Out of a regional labor force of 102,964, which was up 2.9 percent, or 2,400 from last year, there were 3,271 unemployed.

“We continue to have good job growth in several sectors,” said Kim Bodine, Executive Director for CareerSource Gulf Coast.

“Our job growth rate outpaced most of the state, due in part to our tourism season, but also likely due to the real estate market leading to an increase in professional and business services.”

Gulf County reported 15 permits for residential construction during the month of May, up from 11 in April and the 11 in May 2017.

In Bay County and Franklin County, residential construction permits were down from the same period in 2017.

Another economic factor in Gulf County was the 16.5 percent drop in bed tax collections in April compared to the same month in 2017.

Bay and Franklin counties each reported bed taxes were up in April compared to 2017.

In May, non-agricultural employment within Panama City MSA, which also includes Gulf County, was 87,900, up 2,900 jobs, or 3.4 percent, over the year.

The Panama City MSA had the second-fastest annual job growth in Florida in the following sectors in May: professional and business services (up 8.5 percent); leisure and hospitality (5.8 percent); financial activities (4.4 percent); and trade, transportation and utilities (up 3.6 percent).

That sector, along with the mining, logging and construction (7.8 percent), leisure and hospitality (6.8 percent), and trade, transportation, and utilities (2.5 percent) sectors also grew as fast as or faster than in the Panama City MSA than statewide year over year.

The sectors of education and health services (up 2.7 percent) and government (.07 percent) grew as fast or faster over the past year than any other metro area in the state.

Industries gaining jobs over the past year included professional and business services (up 900 jobs); education and health services (up 300 jobs); leisure and hospitality (up 900 jobs); trades, transportation and utilities (up 600 jobs); government (up 100 jobs); mining, logging and construction (up 200 jobs); and financial activities (up 200 jobs).

According to the DEO, the manufacturing (down 200 jobs), and information industries (down 100 jobs) lost jobs over the past year.

The other business sectors were unchanged.

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 www.careersourcegc.com to learn more about professional workforce development and job placement services, all offered free of charge.