Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

Florida's real unemployment off the chart: 18.5%
Columbia County's real unemployment: 18.3% 

By Stew Lilker

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. Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in July 2011 is 10.7 percent. This represents 987,000 jobless out of a labor force of 9,220,000. The state’s unemployment rate is unchanged from the revised June 2011 rate of 10.7 percent. The number of jobs in Florida is 7,225,800, up 28,100 jobs compared to a year ago. July is the tenth consecutive month with positive annual job growth since the state started losing jobs in July 2007. The industry gaining the most jobs is leisure and hospitality (+41,800 jobs, +4.6 percent).

Industries losing jobs over the year include: construction (-23,000 jobs), total government (-16,900 jobs), information (-5,200 jobs), financial activities (-1,600 jobs), and manufacturing (-300 jobs). These industry job losses are partially due to losses in construction of buildings; federal government which employed temporary census workers last year; telecommunications; insurance carriers and related activities; and miscellaneous manufacturing.

Local Area Unemployment Statistics (Not Seasonally Adjusted)

Hendry County continues to suffer with the highest unemployment rate (18.8 percent) in Florida in July 2011, followed by Flagler County (14.7 percent); Indian River and St. Lucie counties (13.8 percent each); and Hernando County (13.7 percent). There are 44 Florida counties with double-digit unemployment rates in July.

Columbia County

Columbia County continues to suffer with double-digit unemployment, which is up .1% from last month at 10.5%. Adding to that rate is the discouraged worker rate, which is the rate that represents those who want a job, but are no longer actively seeking a job. AWI's Chief Economist, Rebecca Rust reports a 7.8% overall rate for Florida, which makes Columbia County's actual unemployment rate 18.3%.

Comparing Florida Nationwide

According to Ms. Rust, among the 10 most populous states, Florida ranks third-highest in unemployment at 10.7%, following behind California and Michigan. Pennsylvania ranks lowest at 7.8% unemployed.

Among all states nationwide, North Dakota continues with the lowest unemployment rate of 3.3%. The highest unemployment rate among all states in the nation is Nevada with 12.9% unemployed.

Florida's unemployment rate of 10.7% is the seventh highest unemployment rate in the nation.

Texas continues leading the nation in job creation and is up 269,500 jobs since the beginning of the year.

According to Ms. Rust, Florida has the 13th highest job gain in the nation over the year of 28,100.

The Impact of Education

Ms. Rust reported that while the relationship between education and jobs is for the US economy she said, "The relationship would hold for Florida."

Ms. Rust continued: The highest unemployment rates are those with the least education and training. Less than a high school diploma has the highest at 15%, while high school graduates are at 9.3%. Those with some college are at 8.3% in those with a bachelor's degree or higher are at 4.3%.

Unemployment by Race

Ms. Rust reported the following in Florida: White unemployment is 10.2%; Hispanic unemployment is at 13.6%; black unemployment is 16.7%.

This means that unemployment among blacks is over 60% more than it is among whites.

In Columbia County, 17.5 % of Columbia County's population is African American. The disparity among the unemployed is staggering, especially if one adds the percentage of discouraged workers into the equation, which make the real rate of unemployment among blacks 24.5%.

African American unemployment is the lowest it has been since 1972 and it is reported nationally that only 56.1% of black males over the age of twenty are employed, while white male employment is almost 70%.


Columbia County's public schools continue to ignore the impact of education on employment, as its schools and students continue to underperform. The District continues to sugar coat the issue by telling its students a college education doesn't count, as Columbia County maintains a near 30% illiteracy rate, dooming the county and its students, making real economic development a continuing pipe dream. 

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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