The unemployment rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region was 3.8% in February, down half a percentage point over the month and 2.2 percentage points lower than the region’s rate of 6% in February 2021.
Across the three-county region, the labor force increased by 939 to 206,767 for an annual growth rate of 0.5%. The number of those with jobs was 198,980, which is an increase of 5,416 when compared to February 2021. The number of unemployed was 7,787, a decrease of 1,100 from the previous month and a 4,477 drop from one year ago.
According to the preliminary employment numbers that were recently released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Levy and Marion counties held the lowest jobless rates in the region at 3.6%. This is a decrease of 0.3 percentage points (Levy) and 0.5 percentage points (Marion) over the month, and a drop of 2.2 percentage points (Marion) and 1.7 percentage points (Levy) when compared to the numbers from February 2021.
Citrus County followed with an unemployment rate of 4.3%, a decline of 0.7 percentage points over the month and a drop of 2.4 percentage points compared to February 2021.
Rusty Skinner, CEO of CareerSource CLM, said the report shows that “our area continues to rebound, showing positive gains in the key labor force statistics over the past year.”
Non-agricultural employment in the Ocala metropolitan statistical area, which covers all of Marion County, was 112,200 in February, an increase of 2,300 jobs over the year for a 2.1% annual growth rate.
Compared to all the metros across the state, the Ocala MSA continued to post the third fastest annual job growth rate in the information industry at 20%, growing faster in the metro area than statewide.
Here is a summary of February’s employment numbers for each county:
- Marion County’s labor force dropped by 802 to 142,440, the number of those with jobs fell by 63 to 137,316, and the number of unemployed dropped by 739 to 5,124. Compared to the same time last year, when the jobless rate was 5.8%, the labor force grew by 632, the number of employed increased by 3,729, and the number of unemployed dropped by 3,097.
- Citrus County’s labor force shrank by 12 to 47,379, the number of employed climbed to 45,323 for an increase of 294, and the number of unemployed dropped by 306 to 2,056. Compared to February 2021, when the unemployment rate was 6.7%, there are now 1,181 more employed and 1,104 fewer unemployed for a net expansion of 77 in the labor force.
- Levy County’s labor force decreased by 29 to 16,948, the number of those with jobs increased by 26 to 16,341, and the number of unemployed decreased by 55 to 607. Over the year, when the jobless rate was 5.3%, the labor force expanded by 230, there are 506 more employed, and 276 fewer unemployed.
In addition to the information industry, which added 100 new jobs over the year, industries gaining jobs in the Ocala MSA were trade, transportation, and utilities (+1,300 jobs for a 4.8% job growth rate); leisure and hospitality (+700 jobs for a growth rate of 5.7%); mining, logging, and construction (+200 jobs for a growth rate of 2.2%); manufacturing (+100 jobs, growing at 1% over the year); financial activities (+100 jobs for a 2.5% growth rate); and other services (+100 jobs, growing at 3.4%).
Education and health services industries were unchanged over the year.
Industries losing jobs compared to February 2021 were government (-200 jobs) and professional and business services (-100 jobs).
Unemployment rates fell in all of Florida’s 67 counties. Citrus County dropped from the third to fourth highest rate. Marion County rose from 12th to 11th highest, tying with Levy County which climbed up from 15th highest.
Among the state’s 24 metro areas, the Ocala MSA’s unemployment rate continued to rank fifth highest. The Villages MSA, which includes a portion of Marion County, maintained the third highest unemployment rate.