Jobless rate hits expected summer peak

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More people coming back to look for work

By The Staff

There's a bigger pool of people in the labor force in Citrus, Marion and Levy counties and there are more people employed, but that could not prevent the unemployment rate from peaking in July according to figure released by the region's career agency.

CareerSource reported Friday that the three-county regional jobless rate was 7.8 percent in July, up 0.5 percent from June. That rate is down 1.0 percent over the year and 2.6 percentage points lower than two years ago.

There were 15,845 people unemployed out of a labor force that has grown to 202,968.

Levy County had the lowest rate in the region at 7.6 percent, followed by Marion at 7.7 percent and Citrus at 8 percent. The rate for Florida is 6.6 percent and the national rate is 6.5 percent. Those numbers are not seasonally adjusted and could change when they are finalized at a later date.

Some of the good news in the figures: The numbers of people working and looking for work was also up across all three counties.

“we are seeing an expanded job market, there’s hiring and more people are working; but the number of those entering the labor force, or re-entering, is more than expansion of the job market. That’s pushing the rate up,” said Rusty Skinner, CareerSource CEO.

Skinner said that the number of those without jobs could reflect seasonal employment changes among public education support personnel, agriculture and tourism, as well as recent graduates entering the labor force for the first time – all of which are experienced statewide.

Regardless of the state of the economy, rates tracked back to 1990 show that, in all but a handful of instances, unemployment returns to or drops below pre-summer spike levels by September or October.

In July, CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion placed 1,017 job seekers and 551 employers posted 1,837 job openings, up 42 percent over the year.

Here's how the numbers break down for each county in the region:

• Levy County's labor force increased by 175 to 16,100, the number of unemployed increased by 82 to 1,216, while the number of employed rose by 93 to 14,884. Over the year, the number of jobless has fallen by 245 compared to when the unemployment rate was 8.9 percent.

• Citrus County's labor force increased by 318 over month to 54,410, the number of employed rose by 72 to 50,031and the number of those without jobs rose by 390 to 4,379. The unemployment rate in July 2013 was 8.9 percent when there were 4,977 unemployed.

• Marion County's labor force grew by 1,2,95 to 132,458, the number of employed increased by 455 to 122,208 and those without jobs rose by 840 to 10,250, a drop of 1,387 over the year when the unemployment rate was 8.7 percent.