Florida’s Jobless Rate at 5.8% in November

December 19, 2014

Yvette C. Hammett | Tampa Tribune
The unemployment rate in every county in the Tampa Bay region dropped in November, with Hillsborough and Pinellas counties dropping below the state rate of 5.8 percent.
And with the region’s economic gurus already busy lining up more job growth for next year and a big announcement coming in January about the relocation of a company’s headquarters here, 2015 is looking promising, they say.
The Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. is expected to make a major announcement Jan. 7 about a “venerable national organization” moving its headquarters to Tampa. President and CEO Rick Homans would not reveal the name of the company or any other details about the deal, but in an email to investors Thursday, he said he plans to discuss at the January press briefing “the impact it will have on our region.”
He also said there will be more jobs announcements coming in the new year.
New state jobless numbers released Friday showed that the state’s unemployment rate for November is 5.8 percent, matching the national unemployment rate. It is down 0.2 percentage points from October and down 0.7 percentage points from November 2013 when it was 6.5 percent.
The rate was 5.6 percent in both Hillsborough and Pinellas in November, down from 6.3 percent in both counties a year earlier.
The jobless rate in Hernando County dropped from 8.1 percent in November 2013 to 7.5 percent this year. Pasco County is down from 7.3 percent in 2013 to 6.5 percent in November 2014 and Polk County dropped from 7.4 percent in 2013 to 6.6 percent this November.
Florida’s drop was aided by the addition of nearly 42,000 jobs last month.
In this region, Hillsborough County gained the most jobs — 8,086 between November 2013 and November 2014. That number is a combination of jobs coming back and new jobs being created.
“We are definitely feeling, firsthand, the impact of a rebounding economy, both in terms of companies that are in the market looking at plans to expand and companies outside of the market looking at making some moves and considering the Tampa Bay area” for relocation, Homans said. “The project activity is continuing to build. We anticipate a very good 2015.”
The economic corporation has 80 other projects in the works, Homans said, noting that 31 deals closed in 2014 to boost the local economy. The largest portion of those deals still in the works involve finance and professional jobs, manufacturing and information technology.
“I was in Plant City this morning having breakfast with three manufacturers that employ a combined 600 employees and each of them is talking about how their business is growing,” Homans said. “We are kind of hearing that across the board from businesses, in general. Levels of activity are picking up.”
Tampa Bay Lightning team owner Jeff Vinik isn’t hurting the future outlook, either. Vinik unveiled his vision this week for a $1 billion investment plan in the Channel District in downtown Tampa. That plan, which includes swaths of new apartments, restaurants, hotels and offices, is expected to breathe new life into what is currently considered a decaying, outdated, partially vacant retail district near, but not right on the waterfront.
“I think the economy was good this year and it’s getting better,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. “Certainly, from where we have come, Tampa is nothing but on an upward ascension. The city last year permitted $2 billion worth of construction work, which is almost unprecedented. That’s everything from single family to high rise work.
“We’ve come out of the recession, job creation is up, certainly interest in the Tampa area is high and I think we are going to see more and more opportunities, particularly with companies looking in the urban core.
“Certainly, Vinik’s announcement didn’t hurt,” Buckhorn said. “How many cities right now can say they have a billion-dollar development plan in the works?”
Homans and his team are immersed in the Vinik deal, which Vinik hopes will include a Fortune 500 company that will draw even more business to the city.
Homans said his team is working closely with Vinik’s team to determine what type of company would be the best fit. The development team “wants to make that project a centerpiece and they want to provide an opportunity for extensive branding and marketing and the high profile that comes from being a centerpiece in a major urban development project,” he said.
“That’s what helps us to begin to tell an exciting story about Tampa and Hillsborough County,” he said. “That is when the company can see and feel the role it will play in this community.” Vinik unveiling his vision gives Homans and his team “something very concrete” to work with in finding the perfect company to become Tampa’s centerpiece, he said.
Statewide, Gov. Rick Scott is touting the improved jobs numbers, which he announced Friday during a visit to Viewpost, a financial services company in Maitland that plans to add nearly 300 jobs.
Scott maintains his policies have helped propel the state’s economy.
“Four years ago, we unveiled an ambitious plan to fix Florida’s economy and turn the state around,” Scott said. “Our goal was to create 700,000 jobs in seven years. Today our goal was reached three years early, with 715,700 private-sector jobs created in Florida since December 2010.
“I applaud our job creators across the state who sacrifice and work hard to create new jobs. Every job impacts a family and we will keep working each day to make Florida the world’s No. 1 destination for jobs.”
Nationally, unemployment rates fell in 41 states in November and were unchanged in six more, reflecting healthy job gains across the country.
The Labor Department says unemployment rates rose in only three states: Connecticut, Louisiana, and Washington state.
Solid economic growth since the spring has encouraged more employers to step up hiring. The U.S. has added nearly 2.7 million jobs this year, the most since 1999.
North Dakota’s 2.7 percent unemployment rate was lowest in the nation. Mississippi’s 7.3 percent rate was the highest.
Locally, Homans said, businesses are still somewhat cautious. “That’s good to have a little bit of caution in the mix, as well.”