Levy's jobless rate drops to 8.9 percent

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Lowest since November 2008

By The Staff

Levy County's jobless rate was down to 8.9 percent in April, a figure not seen since November 2008 — 41 months, and down from 9.4 percent in March and 10.5 percent a year earlier, according to Workforce Connection, the state's employment agency serving Citrus, Levy and Marion counties.

The news was equally good for the three-county region served by the agency as the jobless rate fell to 9.6 percent, a figure also not seen since November 2008 when it was 9.7 percent. The agency's release noted that this is fifth consecutive month that unemployment has dipped for the region.

The April unemployment rates, released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity  were  9.7 percent in Marion County, down over the month from 10.3 percent; and 9.6 percent in Citrus County, dropping from 10.1 percent. The rate for Florida is 8.3 percent and 7.7 percent for the United States.

In Levy County the labor force shrank by 133 to 16,771. While 49 people were no longer in the labor force, the number of residents unemployed dropped by 84 to 1,493.

While unemployment numbers were dropping the labor force, job growth and employment were slightly less in both Citrus and Levy counties.
Rusty Skinner, CEO of Workforce Connection said this sort of month-to-month “bounce in data is something that we have experienced before, but I do not feel that it is discouraging.”
While the regional labor force shrank by 740, that tracks a drop of 28,000 in the statewide labor force, according to Rebecca Rust, DEO’s chief economist.
Rust noted that while a portion of the drop may be due to discouraged job seekers leaving the labor market, she cited Moody’s Analytics research showing that 60 percent of those who dropped out of the labor force were employed.
“A discouraged worker would be those who did not have a job before dropping out,” Rust said.

This current shrinkage “likely means employees have entered retirement.” Rust said. Other factors would include those leaving jobs voluntarily due to disability or to pursue higher education.
The percentage of those leaving jobs — 7.9 percent in April — had been rising steadily since January when it was 7.3 percent, hitting a high of 8.7 percent in March. In contrast, the percentage of those losing jobs fell to 54.5 percent in April, down over the month from 54.7 percent and a drop of 2.5 percentage points since January.
What’s most important is looking at long-term trends,” Rust said. “Long-term trends do track – if unemployment goes down, jobs will go up. Month-to-month, it’s not going to track every month.”