MANATEE -- Slightly more people were out of work in Manatee County for the month of July compared to June, according to the latest job numbers released Friday.
July's unemployment rate creeped up to 6.6 percent from 6 percent in June, but the numbers are still an improvement compared to where the county was in July 2013 with a 7.9 percent unemployment rate, according to figures released by the region's jobs agency CareerSource Suncoast.
Highlights for the North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota metro area include leading the state with the strongest annual job growth rate in three categories: total nonagricultural employment; professional and business services and education and health services.
"That shows we're heading in the right direction," said Sally Hill, spokeswoman for CareerSource Suncoast. "Are we there yet? Not yet."
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Sarasota County also saw a similar pattern having its rate increase to 6.3 percent in July from 5.7 percent in June. Sarasota County's July 2013 rate was 7.1 percent.
Those figures, which are not seasonally adjusted, hover around the state and national unadjusted rates of 6.6 percent for Florida and 6.5 percent for the U.S. The state's seasonally adjusted rate was 6.2 percent, down 1.1 percentage points from a year ago.
CareerSource is holding weekly job fairs to help people find work. Those job fairs are posted on both EmployFlorida.com and CareerSource.com, Hill said.
The next job fair is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Hampton Inn and Suites, 8565 Cooper Creek Blvd., for Crate & Barrel's new store inside the Mall at Uni
versity Town Center. Crate & Barrel is looking for seasonal employees at this fair. Applicants should download an application from Crate & Barrel's website, at crateandbarrelcareers.silkroad.com/crate/Home/How_To_Apply.html and complete it before coming to the job fair.
Permanent positions are available on crateandbarrel.com. The mall is expected to create 2,000 jobs for residents in Manatee and Sarasota counties.
For Crate & Barrel's job training, CareerSource helped link the store with Manatee Technical Institute to use space there to train employees before the mall's opening, HIll said.
"It's really a win-win for both entities there," she said.
Florida had 597,000 people jobless out of a workforce of 9.6 million, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Combined, 20,877 residents were unemployed in Manatee and Sarasota counties out of a 325,350-person workforce.
Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.