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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Plenty of positives despite November’s mixed bag of employment news

The unemployment rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region was 6.2 percent in November – up 0.6 percentage point over the month and 2.6 percent higher than the same time last year.

The region’s labor force was 205,444, up 1,619 over the month and 2,745 more than in November 2019. The number of those with jobs last month edged up by 340 across the region to 192,799 but fell by 2,564 over the year. There were 12,645 unemployed, an increase of 1,279 compared to October and 5,309 more than the previous November.

According to the preliminary jobs data for November, released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Levy County continues to hold the lowest jobless rate in the region at 5.3 percent, up 0.5 percentage point over the month; Marion County followed at 6.0 percent, an increase of 0.6 percentage point; and Citrus County’s rate was 6.9 percent, 0.6 percentage point higher than the October rate.

Florida’s not seasonally adjusted jobless rate – a measure that matches the way local rates are calculated – was 6.3 percent, the same as the previous month and an increase of 3.6 percent over the year.

CareerSource CLM CEO Rusty Skinner

Rusty Skinner, CareerSource CLM’s CEO, said it appears that the latest report offers a mixed bag of news.

“November’s employment data shows a continued positive growth in Marion County, both on a monthly basis and yearly,” he said. “Growth in both labor force and employment indicate that our key metrics on availability of talent, and on labor market absorption of that talent, are expanding.

“However, the level of unemployment indicates a market, that while expanding, is not growing at the rate of new or re-entering employees searching for jobs.”

Skinner said that both Citrus and Levy counties show a very slight increase in job seekers looking for opportunities but little expansion in employment, indicating an employment environment that is in a “holding pattern” as it enters the holiday season.

The Ocala MSA, which covers all of Marion County, had the fastest annual job growth rate compared to all metro areas in Florida in government at 11.5 percent, as well as the highest annual job growth in government, adding 1,800 new jobs over the year for a total of 17,400 government jobs.

For the second consecutive month, the Ocala metro area also had the fastest annual job growth rate in the state in trade, transportation and utilities at 3.6 percent, as well as the highest job growth adding 900 new jobs for a total of 26,100 in that industry.

The Ocala MSA posted the second-fastest annual job growth rate compared to all other metro areas in leisure and hospitality at 1.5 percent, as well as the second highest job growth, adding 200 new positions for a total of 13,500 jobs in November.

“It is certainly excellent news to learn that Marion County posted the fastest growth rates and highest growth in industries critical to our area, and it is especially encouraging to see leisure and hospitality continue to rebound with the second fastest job growth, and highest job growth in the state,” Skinner said.