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Florida's jobless rates in April and May were the same — 3.3 percent

TALLAHASSEE — With state officials pointing to issues such as job growth in the construction industry, Florida’s unemployment rate remained at 3.3 percent in May, according to a report released Friday.

The rate also was 3.3 percent in April, after inching up from 3.2 percent in March and 3.1 percent in the three previous months. Florida had a 2.8 percent unemployment rate in May 2023.

The Florida Department of Commerce report said 361,000 people qualified as unemployed last month, the same number as in April. The labor force of 11.08 million declined by 14,000 from April to May.

Jimmy Heckman, the department’s chief of workforce statistics and economic research, called the monthly figures reassuring after the number of unemployed people had experienced several months of “small upticks.”

“We are seeing more than one job opening for every unemployed individual in the state,” Heckman told reporters. “And we are seeing really encouraging numbers, when we look at the core labor force statistics of prime-age workers that are participating in the labor force at near record highs.”

The labor force grew by 102,000 people from May 2023 to May 2024. The number of unemployed workers increased from 306,000 in May 2023 to 361,000 last month.

Employment in the construction industry increased by 5,500 jobs from April to May. Employment in a broad category of education and health services increased by 2,700 positions, while 2,300 were added in another broad category of trade, transportation and utilities.

Heckman said the construction-industry growth is an indication of “strong demand for labor and for goods and services statewide.”

But other areas of the economy saw employment decrease month over month. For example, employment in a category of professional and business services was down 3,100 jobs, while government jobs were off by 1,300 and manufacturing was down by 600.

The national unemployment rate was 4 percent in May, the first time the figure has been that high since January 2022.

Across Florida, the lowest unemployment rate in May continued to be in South Florida, with the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metropolitan statistical area at 2.6 percent, down from 2.7 percent in April.

The Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island and Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin areas were at 2.7 percent, both dropping from 2.9 percent a month earlier.

Panama City was next at 2.8 percent, while the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area was at 2.9 percent.

The highest rate was in the Homosassa Springs area at 4.5 percent, down from 4.9 percent in April. The next-highest areas were The Villages and Sebring, both at 4.2 percent.

The statewide rate is seasonally adjusted, while the metro rates are not adjusted.

The News Service of Florida is a wire service to which WUFT News subscribes.