Workers in Florida are moving to higher-paying jobs as the unemployment rate drops to 3.2 percent in March – CBS Miami


TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami / NSF) – Florida’s unemployment rate fell to 3.2 percent in March as workers left concerts in hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues for higher-paying jobs in manufacturing, storage and logistics.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity released a report Friday that said the unemployment rate in March had dropped from 3.3 percent in February. The steady rate cuts come despite employers reportedly struggling to keep workers.

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“The combination of (a) declining unemployment and rising labor force is a very good sign for the Florida economy,” Adrienne Johnston, the department’s chief economist, told a news conference. “This means that more and more Floridians continue to enter the job market and they are able to find work on a sustainable basis.”

Johnston added that while people seem more optimistic about finding work if they leave their current job, conversations between economists have turned into pre-pandemic discussions about a “narrow job market”.

“We are having those conversations we were having two or three years ago, where all the businesses, all the industries in our state are growing,” Johnston said. “They are competing for qualified talent and they have to find ways to compete. And that in some cases involves raising wages, finding other ways to stimulate their employees. ”

The state has also seen a shift in where people are finding jobs, with the professional services and business sectors topping the list of job earnings in the monthly report, while the leisure and hospitality sector had the biggest decline.

The unemployment rate in March, which was down from 5.4 percent a year earlier, represented about 339,000 Florida residents qualified as unemployed by a workforce of 10.51 million. From February to March, another 8,000 people found work in Florida, while the workforce increased by 42,000.

The report said Florida gained 497,800 jobs during the year, an increase of 5.7 percent, while the number of jobs increased by 4.5 percent over the same period.

In early 2020, as businesses shrank or closed when the coronavirus pandemic began, the Florida unemployment rate went from 2.7 percent in February 2020 to 4.5 percent in March 2020. The rate peaked at 13.9 percent in May 2020, when 1.4 millions of people were out of work. During the first months of the pandemic, the state lost 1.28 million jobs.

The state estimates that since then, Florida has selected 1.44 million jobs.

A news release from Gov. Ron DeSantis’s office said last month was “the single largest month of output growth since May 2020.”

“Economic data underscores that Florida is transcending the nation by defending the freedom that Florida people need to do business and drive economic success,” DeSantis said in a statement. “Industries like manufacturing continue to see growth because Florida prioritizes workforce development and expanding opportunities for businesses and households in our state.”

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The national unemployment rate in March was 3.6 percent, up from 3.8 percent in February.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported Friday that Florida was among 37 states where the unemployment rate fell from February to March, with steady rates in the other 13 states and the District of Columbia.

“Over the past year, the unemployment rate has dropped in every state and many states have reached historic lows,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “These are not just numbers on one page: These are millions of Americans returning to work and able to support themselves and their families with well-paying jobs and enjoy the dignity that a job offers.”

As Biden praised his economic plans, Florida Republican leaders have warned of federal policies. Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis called on DeSantis to make unspecified budget cuts to counter Florida against a possible recession. Lawmakers last month approved a budget for the fiscal year that will begin July 1, although they have not formally submitted the spending plan to DeSantis.

Meanwhile, the National Federation of Independent Businesses reported declining optimism among business owners, largely due to inflation the group said has caused nearly three-quarters of businesses to raise prices.

“Florida’s economy has performed extremely well over the past two years, but we are not immune to rising inflation and other challenges facing small businesses across the country,” the CEO said in a statement Tuesday. NFIB-Florida, Bill Herrle.

Across Florida, the lowest unemployment rate in March was in Monroe County, at 1.7 percent, followed by St. Louis. Johns County with 2.0 percent and Wakulla and Okaloosa counties with 2.1 percent.

Highlands County had the highest rate at 3.9 percent, followed by Putnam County at 3.8 percent and Citrus and Hamilton counties at 3.7 percent.

Among the major metropolitan areas, the Jacksonville and Tampa Bay regions were 2.5 percent, up from 2.9 percent in February. The Pensacola region was at 2.6 percent after being at 3.0 percent in February.

The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metropolitan area was 2.8 percent, up from 3.0 percent in February. The Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area went from 3.4 percent in February to 2.9 percent in March.

The state unemployment rate is seasonally regulated, while county and metropolitan rates are not.

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(© 2022 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Jim Turner’s Florida News Service contributed to this report.)

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