Tallahassee, FL – Florida’s unemployment rate held steady at 3.3 percent as 2018 ended, while Hurricane Michael’s impact continued to be felt in parts of the Panhandle.
The state Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday an estimated 335,000 Floridians were out of work in December from a labor force of 10.28 million, keeping the state mark below the national unemployment rate of 3.9 percent.
The state rate held steady as two counties that sustained major damage in Hurricane Michael continued to struggle with the effects of the October storm. Gulf County posted the state’s highest unemployment rate, 7.9 percent, followed by Bay County at 5.9 percent.
The Department of Economic Opportunity report noted the December numbers for the Panhandle counties “reflect the continued impacts from Hurricane Michael.”
The state’s lowest unemployment rates were found in Monroe County, at 2.6 percent, followed by St. Johns and Okaloosa counties, each at 2.7 percent. Orange, Seminole and Union counties were each at 2.9 percent.
The overall state rate is seasonally adjusted, while the county rates are not. Over the past year, Florida’s biggest gains in new jobs were in education and health services, which grew by 54,000 jobs, a 4.2 percent increase for the combined fields, according to state figures.
Jobs in leisure and hospitality grew 3.7 percent, up 45,800 positions, while professional and business services were up 39,300 jobs, a 2.9 percent increase.
Construction saw 34,900 new jobs, a 6.7 percent increase for the industry. Government work declined by 9,800 jobs, which was due to less local government hiring.
According to the numbers (not seasonally adjusted) released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Volusia County is seeing an unemployment rate of 3.5% and Flagler with 3.9%. Volusia is just .2% under the current national rate of 3.7%, while Flagler sits .2% higher.
Both counties, however, rank higher than the current rate in Florida of 3.3%. Out of counties ranked by the highest unemployment rate, Volusia sits at 24th while Flagler sits at 18th.
When it comes to metropolitan areas, the Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Areas), which includes Palm Coast, sits at an unemployment rate of 3.6%, which sits just .1% shy of the national rate but .3% higher than the state unemployment rate.
In December of 2017, Volusia County had a labor force of 250,729, with 241,172 residents employed and 9,557 unemployed for a rate of 3.8%.
A year later (December 2018), Volusia saw a bigger labor force 252,200, with 243,406 employed and 8,794 unemployed, leading to a rate of 3.5%, a .3% drop.
For Flagler County (In December of 2017), they saw a labor force of 46,155, with 44,300 employed and 1,855 unemployed, leading to an unemployment rate of 4%.
In December of 2018, Flagler County had a labor force of 46,471, with 44,655 employed and 1,816 unemployed, making the unemployment rate 3.9%, a .1% drop.
However, Volusia & Flagler County’s unemployment rate saw a spike between November and December of 2018. Volusia saw a jump from 3.2% to 3.5% and Flagler with 3.6% to 3.9%.
The state of Florida in December of 2017 had a total labor force of 10,092,000, with 9,720,000 employed and 372,000 unemployed, making the rate 3.7%. That dropped to 3.3% in November and December of 2018, a .3% drop.
As for the United States, the nation saw a labor force of 159,880,000 in December of 2017, with 153,602,000 employeed and 6,728,000 unemployed, making the unemployment rate 3.9%.
In December of 2018, the US saw that drop to 3.7%.