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The jobless rate in May for Workforce Connection’s Citrus, Levy and Marion counties region was 7.8 percent, up 0.3 percentage points over the month and 2.0 percent lower than the same time last year. The unemployment rate for the region remains the lowest it has been since June 2008 when it was 7.7 percent.
In Levy County, the May rate was 7.8 percent — an increase of 0.2 percentage points from April's 7.6 percent, and the lowest since July 2008 when it was 7.7 percent. The county's labor force increased by 45 to 16,268, employment remained virtually unchanged with a gain of four jobs to 14,991 and the number of unemployed dropped by 41 to 1,277 which is down 269 over the year.
Rusty Skinner, CEO of Workforce Connection, said the slight uptick in the region’s unemployment rate points to the “return of discouraged workers to the active job search.” He said it is largely encouraging because it is accompanied by strong gains in employment and labor force number.
“Despite what we want to say, there have been those who dropped out of the labor market because they were discouraged,” Skinner said. “But as they’ve seen more hiring going on they’ve gotten back into the active labor market and are therefore counted as unemployed.”
Expanding labor force across all three counties, coupled with an increase in the number of those with jobs, shows that “shows more optimism as more people re-enter the labor force and look for work."
The May 2013 unemployment rates, released on Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, were 7.8 percent for Marion County, an increase of 0.3 percent over the month and the lowest it has been since June 2008 when the rate was 7.6 percent; 8.0 percent for Citrus County, also up 0.3 percentage points to 7.6 percent, but still the lowest since June 2008 (8.1 percent); and 7.8 percent in Levy County an increase of 0.2 percentage points to 7.6 percent, the lowest since July 2008 (7.7 percent). Local rates are not seasonally adjusted. Prior to May, the unemployment rate had tumbled for five consecutive months from 8.9 percent.
The not seasonally adjusted rate for Florida is 7.0 percent and the national rate is 7.3 percent.
Across the region, the labor force grew by 2,066 to 208,991 and there were 16,338 unemployed, an increase over the month of 740 but down 3,979 since May 2012. At the same time, the number of those with jobs rose since April by 1,326 to 192,653 for a gain over the year of 2,083 employed.
Workforce Connection is the area's career employment agency. The Levy County Workforce Connection One-Stop Career Center is at 109 N.W. Third Ave., in Chiefland. Fore more information, visit the office Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. or call 352-493-6813.