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Summer doldrums hit local jobs market

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By The Staff

The number of people able to work in Levy County rose by 61 in May, and the number with new jobs was 26, but that was not enough to make up for the increase in unemployment by 87 people, pushing the county's jobless rate to 6.9 percent – up half a percentage point.

The news was part of the monthly jobless report by CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion, the region's career agency. 

But that May rate is just below the 7 percent rate in the same month in 2008 when the recession was starting to take hold on the county's work force. And it follows a cyclical cycle as school closes for the summer and many jobs go away in the nearby Gainesville and Ocala markets, where 69 percent of Levy County's civilian labor force works. 

In May, Levy County's labor force rose by 61 to 16,177, the number of unemployed increased by 87 to 1,115, while the number of employed fell by 26 to 15,062. 

Over the year, the number of jobless has fallen by 209 compared to when the unemployment rate was 8.1 percent.

CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion CEO Rusty Skinner said the rise in the May rate is not unexpected.

“We typically begin seeing this sort of seasonal increase in unemployment numbers as we head into the summer,” he said, adding that the “summer spike” starts when spring terms end with college students returning to the area looking for work until the fall.  

“Until they find seasonal employment or return to school, that adds to our unemployment numbers,” he said, pointing out that employment rates historically rebound by September or October.

Skinner said the fact that, regionally, the labor force expanded over-the-month by 2,065 compared to April and the number of employed rose from 187,489 to 189,554.

“That’s what we would hope to see in this situation,” he said. “Levy County was the only county to experience a very slight decrease in the number of employed; if we saw the labor force shrink across the board and the number of employed drop appreciably, that would cause us to believe the change in the unemployment rate was more than just seasonal.”

In addition to the influx of college students seeking employment, seasonal declines in employment reflected statewide included public and private universities/colleges and tourism, according to Becky Rust, Florida’s chief economist. She said that agriculture was also trending down.

CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion, formerly Workforce Connection, is an equal opportunity employer/program. 

The CareerSource office in Chiefland is at 109 N.W. Third Ave.

For information on finding a job or preparing for a job search or to attend training, call 352-493-6813, ext. 2202 or 800-434-JOBS (5627), ext. 2202.