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Gulf County jobless rate rises

David Adlerstein
The Star

Gulf County’s unemployment rate worsened last month, as the county’s workforce staggers to rebound from the coronavirus shutdown that began in mid-March.

According to preliminary numbers released June 19 by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Gulf’s jobless rate in May grew by four-tenths of 1 percentage point, from 8.8 to 9.2 percent, with 39 people joining the unemployment line, which now numbers 482 people without jobs.

The labor force grew by 233 workers, from 5,013 in April to 5,246 last month. The workforce remains significantly smaller than one year ago, when it was at 5,838, the jobless rolls were also considerably smaller at 281, and the unemployment rate, at 4.8 percent, was about half of what it is today.

The unemployment rate in Franklin County last month was worse than it is here, at 10.1 percent, and much better in Liberty County, where it stood at 6.2 percent, the second best in the state. And Bay County was even worse, at 11.4 percent.

Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in May rose to 14.5 percent, up seven-tenths of 1 percentage point from the April rate of 13.8 percent, and up 11.3 percentage points from a year ago. There were 1.4 million jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 9.7 million. The U.S. unemployment rate was 13.3 percent in April.

Gulf’s unemployment rate was higher than 23 other counties, which saw Columbia, Holmes and Taylor all at 9.0 percent; Alachua, Hardee and Leon at 8.8; Gadsden and Suwannee 8.7; Jackson 8.5; Dixie and Okeechobee 8.3 percent; Bradford and Calhoun 8.0; Glades and Madison 7.9; Wakulla 7.8; Baker 7.7; Jefferson 7.5; DeSoto and Gilchrist each 7.1; Union 7.0; Liberty 6.2; and Lafayette County, best in the state, at 5.7 percent.

Florida’s seasonally adjusted total nonagricultural employment was 8.1 million last month, an increase of 183,000 jobs, or 2.3 percent, over the month. The state has lost a little more than 850,000 jobs over the year, a decrease of 9.5 percent. Nationally, the number of jobs fell 11.7 percent over the year.

The only industry gaining jobs over the year was construction, which grew by 4,900 jobs, or 0.9 percent.

The industry losing the most jobs over the year was leisure and hospitality, which has shed 460,500 jobs, or nearly 37 percent.

Other industries losing jobs over the year included trade, transportation, and utilities (down by 123,800 jobs, or 6.9 percent); professional and business services (down by 104,500 jobs, or 7.5 percent); education and health services (down by 73,300 jobs, or 5.5 percent); other services (down by 34,100 jobs, or 9.6 percent); financial activities (down by 16,100 jobs, or 2.7 percent); government (down by 15,500 jobs, or 1.4 percent); manufacturing (down by 15,200 jobs, or 4.0 percent); and information (down by 11,300 jobs, or 8.1 percent).