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Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

AWI weighs in with Florida's Unemployment figures
In real numbers, Columbia County is at 18.5%

AWI's Chief Economist, Rebecca Rust, reports from Tallahassee.

The Agency for Workforce Innovation’s Chief Economist, Rebecca Rust, reported on Florida’s unemployment/employment today. Unemployment in June 2011 is holding steady at last month’s rate of 10.6%. Florida now has a classification of workers, which it calls -- discouraged workers, who are those that once had a job, but don’t and can’t find work. Ms. Rust said that rate is 8.1%, which gives Florida a real unemployment rate of 18.7%. Applying the discouraged worker rate to Columbia County’s 10.4% unemployment makes Columbia County’s unemployment rate 18.5%.

Out of a labor force of 9,234,000, Florida maintains over 1 million unemployed on and off the radar.

Ms. Rust reported that the national unemployment rate was 9.2% in June, compared against Florida’s 10.6%. Ms. Rust also explained that the bump up in on employment rates throughout the state occurred because these rates are seasonally adjusted.

Florida's jobs increase 0.7%

According to AWI, in June Florida had 7,247,000 jobs, which is up over the year by 53,000 jobs, or 0.7%.

Prior to October of 2010, Florida had been losing jobs for three years in a row, however, over the past nine months Florida has been increasing jobs.

Ms. Rust reported that manufacturing is gaining jobs over the year for the first time since 2006.

North Dakota maintains a position of having the lowest unemployment in the country at 3.2%. It is the only state in the nation that has an unemployment rate of under 4%.

Looking at the 10 most populous states, Florida has the second highest unemployment rate, behind California. California is the highest at 11.8% -- Florida is second highest at 10.6%. The lowest is Pennsylvania at 7.6%, which Rust said is because of Pennsylvania’s strong manufacturing market and exports.

Looking at all states regardless of population, Florida has the fourth highest rate of unemployment in the nation.

Job Creation

Over the last year Texas led the way by far in job creation -- creating 220,000 jobs. The lowest was Georgia, which is still losing jobs. They are down by 20,000 jobs from a year ago. Two of the ten most populous states are still losing jobs, Georgia and North Carolina. Florida with a gain of about 53,000 was in the middle range, said Ms. Rust.

In Florida the largest gain in jobs was leisure and hospitality, at 46,700 jobs, which is due to food services and drinking.

Unemployment in Florida vs. the US.

Job losses

Government led the list in terms of job losses, down by 16,000 jobs. Ms. Rust reported that this is almost entirely due to the loss of jobs in the federal government, because the temporary census takers were still here a year ago.

Ms. Rust said that state workers were down by 600 jobs from a year ago.

Peak employment - where are we now?

Ms. Rust reported that Florida peak employment was in March of 2007. Compared to where we are now, Florida is down 824,200 jobs. Construction has lost more jobs than any other sector, down by 350,300 jobs, or just over 51%.

Some issues

Ms Rust:  There are still more unemployed people than there are job openings that are advertised. There is still a mismatch of skills between the job openings and job seekers. There is less worker mobility. The foreclosure issue makes it difficult for workers to move if they would like to relocate for a job. The longer spells of unemployment rate it more difficult for job seekers. Technological improvements have made it easier for employers to do more with less. High food and gas prices are still with us.

The space shuttle program

The retirement of the space shuttle. There have been several rounds of layoffs and there are expected to be more. The state was not forthcoming  with a projected job loss for the space shuttle program and ancillary industries.

The areas with the lowest/highest unemployment rate

Crestview, Ft. Walton Beach, and Destin are the areas with the lowest unemployment in Florida. This is attributed to their high rate of government employment.

Palm Coast and Miami have the highest unemployment rates due to long-term weakness in the construction industry.

The outlook for Florida  jobs

Ms. Rust continued, “We do not have a new forecast yet from the Economic Estimating Conference (Office of Economic & Demographic Research). We won’t have one until August. The most recent forecast shows that the unemployment rate is expected to decline to 10% by the end of next year and job growth is expected to gain by 2.4%, realizing now that we are gaining at 0.7%.


Floridians are in for a continuing rough ride. Time will tell if Governor Scott’s 700,000 jobs in seven years will become reality. At the present rate of job creation -- that is just not happening.

For decades, Florida’s politicians, the most crooked and seemingly the most greedy in the land, have been hooked on OPM, (pronounced opium) -- other people’s money.

Now that they have to depend on themselves to actually sell something from Florida that was not created by God or Disney -- they are clueless, and have been for decades, as they have devoured Florida’s natural resources to benefit themselves and their friends.

Florida Economic Development  -- What’s that?

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