Local News

Highlands unemmployment edges down

Florida's unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 6.3 percent in March, while the Highlands rate dipped .1 percent to 7.3 percent.

Highlands workers also fared better than last year, when 7.8 percent were jobless in March 2013.

Friday's jobless numbers represent a .1 percent setback in the forward movement of the state's economy. The state added 22,900 jobs in March, but the labor force increased by 59,000 people, causing the increase. There were just over 600,000 unemployed in the state, about 17,000 more than there were in February.

Florida's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was down 1.4 percent from 7.7 percent a year ago.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in March. Florida's unemployment rate was 0.4 percentage point lower than the U.S. rate and was below the national rate for the eighth consecutive month.

March 2014 was the 44th consecutive month with positive annual job growth after the state lost jobs for over three years.

The industry gaining the most jobs was professional and business services (+48,000 jobs, +4.4 percent). Other industries gaining jobs included trade, transportation, and utilities (+47,500 jobs, +3.0 percent); leisure and hospitality (+42,100 jobs, +4.1 percent); construction (+41,000 jobs, +11.5 percent); private education and health services (+15,300 jobs, +1.4 percent); financial activities (+12,200 jobs, +2.4 percent); manufacturing (+9,700 jobs, +3.0 percent); other services (+6,800 jobs, +2.2 percent); information (+2,200 jobs, +1.6 percent); and total government (+300 jobs, less than +0.1 percent).

Highlands fared better than two of its neighbors: Glades counted 7.6 percent, Okeechobee came in at 7.4 percent. Polk tallied 7.1 percent, Hardee 6.9 percent, and DeSoto 6.5 percent.

In March 2014, Monroe and Walton counties counted the state's lowest unemployment rate (3.8 percent each). Many of the counties showing the lowest unemployment rates were those with relatively high proportions of government employment.

Flagler County raised the highest unemployment rate (9.3 percent) in Florida in March 2014, followed by Hendry County (9.1 percent). No counties reported double-digit unemployment rates for March or February.

All of the 22 metro areas in the state had over-the-year job gains in March 2014. The areas with the largest gains were Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford (+33,300 jobs, +3.1 percent), Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall (+32,900 jobs, +3.1 percent), and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (+30,000 jobs, +2.6 percent).

The highest unemployment was Palm Coast 9.3 percent, and Sebastian-Vero Beach 7.6 percent. Lakeland-Winter Haven was seventh with 7.1;

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater MSA 6.5