Manatee, Sarasota unemployment rates continue to drop

MANATEE — Unemployment in Manatee and Sarasota counties continues to slide as the area heads out of summer’s slow season.

The jobless rate in Manatee dipped to an even 9 percent in September, down from the 9.4 percent reported a month ago and 11.1 percent from the same time last year, according to figures released today by the labor department.

In Sarasota, unemployment ago eased slightly over the month to reach 8.7 percent, down from 8.9 percent in August and 11 percent in September 2011.

Unlike the monthly state unemployment rate, local figures are not adjusted for seasonal factors that manipulate tourism, agriculture and retail. Those numbers typically begin to rebound in September and last through spring.

Despite the improvements, 26,871 workers between Manatee and Sarasota remain out of a job from a lob force of 303,492 — leaving a regional unemployment rate of 8.9 percent, records show.

Across the state, Florida’s seasonally adjusted jobless mark dropped to 8.7 percent in September after the state added 800 new positions during the month.

Florida’s unemployment rate has now declined over the year for 22 consecutive months. It remains higher than the national average of 7.8 percent.

“In September, we saw continued private sector job growth and an increase in the number of available job openings around the state, which means that more employers are hiring and utilizing the skills and talents of thousands of Floridians,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement. “These numbers today tell us two things – we still have more work to do to grow our economy, and we are heading in the right direction.”

Josh Salman, Herald business writer, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @JoshSalman