Manatee's employment rate improves in April

MANATEE - The unemployment rate in Manatee dropped from 8.7 percent in March to 8 percent in April, state data released today shows.

Sarasota's jobless rate, however, only inched down by a 10th of a percent from 8.7 percent in March to 8.6 percent in April

The state's job picture continues to improve with 8.7 percent unemployment in April, the lowest rate since January 2009. There were 804,000 jobless Floridians out of a labor force of more than nine million.

A closer look at the numbers, however, shows roughly 2,000 people dropped out of the labor force in Manatee between March and April, part of the reason for the significant drop in the unemployment rate, said Sean Snaith, economist and director of the University of Central Florida's Institute for Economic Competitiveness.

"They are not counted as part of the labor force and so you can see a decline in the unemployment rate," he said. It could indicate that Manatee County has more long-time unemployed workers who have just given up looking for work, Snaith said.

"We are seeing this on a national level too," he added.

Manatee's 8 percent rate puts it as No. 36 in the state ranking of counties with Flagler County in first place with the highest unemployment rate of 11. 6 percent and Monroe County at 67 with the lowest at 4.8 percent.

In the ranking of metropolitan areas, North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota was ranked No. 13 with a regional rate of 8.3 percent.

Statewide, the number of jobs in Florida was 7,325,300 in April, up 52,600 jobs compared to a year ago. April was the 21st consecutive month with positive annual job growth after the state lost jobs for three years, state data shows.The industry gaining the most jobs was professional and business services.

Other industries gaining jobs included private education and health services, trade, transportation and utilities, leisure and hospitality, financial activities, manufacturing and other services.