Tampa-area unemployment falls to 4.8%; Florida leads in job creation

March 15, 2016

Yvette Hammett | Tampa Tribune/TBO.com
The January unemployment rate in the Tampa metro area dropped to 4.8 percent, a full percentage point lower than it was a year ago and below the national rate.
Statewide, the unemployment rate dropped from 5.1 to 5 percent over the year, an eight-year low, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported Monday.
Florida leads the nation in job growth, just ahead of Texas, according to new federal jobless reports.
Every March, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity release January employment and unemployment estimates as well as revised historical data. The process is called benchmarking.
Benchmark revisions are a standard part of the jobs estimation process and take place at this time every year in each state.
February jobs figures are due out March 25.
The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area created 44,300 new private-sector jobs year over year. The state has reportedly added 1.06 million jobs since 2010.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott used the report to trumpet his signature issues of job creation and tax cuts, which he has blended in what he calls the “Million, Billion Jobs Victory Tour.”
“With more than one million jobs created across the state and $1 billion in tax cuts over the past two years, we have a lot of great news to celebrate …,” Scott said in a news release.
He also announced Monday the creation of 255 new jobs at Kobie Marketing in St. Petersburg, about 160 of them by the end of the year.
The company is filling positions for project managers, developers, creative designers, copywriters, strategists and consultants.
“We look forward to the collaboration and support of the city, county and state as we continue to attract and retain some of the best and brightest resources in the country,” said Ashby Green, CFO for Kobie Marketing. Kobie has been headquartered in St. Petersburg since 1990.
The industries with the largest gain in jobs over the year in the Tampa Bay area were professional and business services with 14,900 new jobs and leisure and hospitality with 9,100 new jobs.
The Tampa Bay area was first among the state metro areas in job demand in January with 44,747 openings.
The area also was first in the state in demand for high-wage STEM jobs — high-skill science, technology, engineering and math occupations — with 14,693 openings in January.
Statewide, Florida businesses created 36,000 private-sector jobs in January.
“Florida continues to be a beacon of economic success across the nation and the globe,” said Cissy Proctor, the new executive director of the state Department of Economic Opportunity.
The Orlando metro area led the state in January job creation, adding 53,900 jobs over the year. Orlando’s unemployment rate declined by a full percentage point year-over-year to 4.7 percent.
The Orlando region has the second highest demand for STEM jobs.
Broken down by county, Hillsborough County fared well in January, with a 4.6 percent unemployment rate, compared to 5.5 percent in January 2015.
Hillsborough County’s economic future continues to look bright, the Tampa-Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. said in its most recent report of economic indicators.
“Local talent is finding jobs in quality positions that drive our economy,” said Robin DiSalvo, market research analyst for the Economic Development Corp. Of 14 industries analyzed, DiSalvo said, five saw an increase in employment of 5 percent or more year over year.
Pasco County’s unemployment rate stood at 5.5 percent in January, down from 6.5 percent year over year. In Pinellas County, the unemployment rate dropped to 4.6 percent from 5.5 percent in January 2015 and in Polk County, the rate was 5.8 percent but still down a full percentage point year over year.
Monroe County, home to Key West, has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.3 percent. Hendry County, where LaBelle is the county seat, has the highest jobless rate at 8.4 percent.
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