Levy residents finding jobs

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By The Staff

The jobless rate for Levy County residents dropped 0.6 percentage points to 8.4 percent in February —  the lowest it has been since November 2008 according to a press release by the state's labor contractor. 

Levy County’s labor force fell slightly by 46 since January to 16,176, employment rose by 52 to 14,812 and the number of unemployed dropped by rose by 98 to 1,364. Over the year the number of unemployed dropped by 319 from 1,683. In February 2011, the jobless rate was 11.5 percent with 1,938 people unemployed.

The jobless rate in February for Workforce Connection’s Citrus, Levy and Marion counties region was 8.5 percent, down 0.6 percent from January’s rate, 2.1 percentage points lower than the same time last year and 4 percent less than February 2011. These are the lowest unemployment rates for the region since July 2008.

Florida’s unemployment rate in February fell to 7.7 percent, the lowest since October 2008 when it was also 7.4 percent. The national rate was 7.7 percent in February, down 0.2 percent over the month.

Rusty Skinner, Workforce Connection’s CEO, said that he doesn’t want to seem “overly optimistic” but that the numbers point to “positive signs.”

 “While the labor force remains fairly stable, the decreases in the number of unemployed is mirrored by a corresponding increase in employment,” Skinner said. “This minimized any concerns that the drop in unemployment is due to discouraged workers leaving the labor market.”

Skinner added that the gains aren’t due to one company but to solid growth in small businesses.

“When you talk to business owners, uncertainty has been the key issue,” he said. “Whether it has been uncertainty about the leadership in Washington or lack of information about the Affordable Care Act, there has been a hesitancy to hire. As those uncertainties clear up, it gives a little breathing room to make staffing decisions.”

Also, as economic conditions improve, companies are seeing an uptick in consumer demand which creates greater need to add staff, Skinner said.