BRADENTON — Job scarcity is making economic recovery a slow and painful process locally and statewide.
Manatee County’s unemployment rate declined three-tenths of a percentage point to 12.6 percent in September, according to state labor statistics released Friday.
Still, the county’s jobless rate reflects 18,295 individuals seeking work compared to an estimated 4,023 jobs advertised online, according to the Agency for Workforce Innovation.
Officials at the Manatee Chamber of Commerce say economic development will be critical to getting people back to work.
As a result, the Manatee chamber’s proposed initiatives for 2011 will focus heavily on helping small businesses grow in an effort to spur job creation.
The business organization’s 2011 strategic plan, which is still pending approval from the board of directors, includes a proposal for the chamber to host a small business summit for business members to address capital needs.
In addition, the chamber will be looking to ramp up “buy local” campaigns to encourage consumers to spend at small businesses in the area.
“The way you get to job creation is by having successful businesses,” said Jacki Dezelski, vice president of community development for the Manatee chamber. “We will continue to focus on economic development as that will be critical to helping Manatee County emerge from this economic downturn.”
At the state level, job shortages remain critical, too, said Rebecca Rust, chief economist for the Agency for Workforce Innovation.
Online job postings statewide totaled 234,618 positions in September. Yet, statewide there are an estimated 1.1 million jobless residents.
Florida’s unemployment rate grew by one-tenth of a percentage point to 11.9 in September.
“The state’s unemployment rate will not go down to 6 percent until the year 2017,” said Rust, during a conference call to address the September employment statistics.
Statewide, health care and private education gained the most jobs statewide; 39,200 more jobs in September, a 3.7 percent increase from September 2009.
Manatee Memorial Hospital hired an estimated 20 workers over the past two months, most of them clinical staff, said Vernon DeSear, hospital spokesman.
“Health care jobs are still available for people interested in pursuing a medical career,” DeSear said.
The state estimates overall job growth for the Bradenton-Sarasota-North Port was 100 more jobs than a year ago.
Sally Hill, spokeswoman for the Suncoast Workforce Board, said the slightly improved unemployment rate in Manatee County is nothing to celebrate.
“We are always encouraged when we see unemployment rates decline,” Hill said. “However, we also know that the deep recession on the Suncoast causef record-high unemployment so we’re likely to see peaks and valleys until businesses have the confidence to begin hiring again.”
Rust said its unclear when that will be.
“The question also remains why are we seeing such a slow recovery? That’s because we still have our tight credit conditions, we still have consumers holding back on consumption, businesses are holding down their costs by not hiring and employers have uncertainty about economic conditions. Consumers are holding back because their concerned about losing their jobs and businesses are holding back because they’re not seeing consumer demand.”