Florida job growth continues as unemployment hits historic low

Job fairs have been growing in popularity across the region and the state as the economy has been improving.
Job fairs have been growing in popularity across the region and the state as the economy has been improving.

Florida’s unemployment rate continues to fall, hitting its lowest level in nearly a decade, as the state led the nation in job growth last month.

The state’s jobless rate fell for the third consecutive month in May, hitting 4.3 percent according to data released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

That’s down from 4.5 percent in April and 4.9 percent in May 2016. The U.S. unemployment rate also was 4.3 percent in May.

Locally, the unemployment rate in the Bradenton-Sarasota area held steady at 3.7 percent, with the two-county region ranking among the lowest in the state. That’s down from 4.2 percent a year earlier.

Manatee County was at 3.6 percent for the second consecutive month, while Sarasota County held at 3.7 percent for the second month in a row.

Meanwhile, figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the state added 29,600 jobs last month, almost 2,000 more than New York.

At a packaging company in Orlando on Friday to tout the state’s job growth, Gov. Rick Scott said Florida added nearly 22,000 private-sector jobs in May as the Sunshine State’s jobless rate fell to its lowest level since August 2007.

“We are competing against other states and nations for new jobs, and I am proud that we were able to establish the $85 million Florida Job Growth Grant Fund during the recent (Florida legislature) special session,” said Scott, noting that May was the 82nd consecutive month with positive year-over-year growth across the state.

3.6 percentThe jobless rate in Manatee County in May, the same as a month earlier.

“This flexible, transparent economic development program will promote public infrastructure and individual job training in order to encourage more businesses to grow and invest in our state,” Scott said.

Florida has added 228,000 jobs during the past year, trailing only Texas (266,000) and California (242,000). Moreover, the number of state jobs grew by 2.7 percent year-over-year, behind only Utah (3.3 percent).

Statewide industries gaining the most new jobs during the past 12 months:

  • Professional and business services with 52,900;
  • Leisure and hospitality with 34,900;
  • Education and health services with 34,400;
  • Construction with 31,000;
  • Trade, transportation and utilities with 30,900.

“Job seekers are finding good jobs that provide for their families,” said Cissy Proctor, the executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “Our impressive job growth and business-friendly climate has helped Florida establish itself as a national leader in job creation.”

Mike Garbett: 941-745-7011; @MGarbett52