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Thursday, February 29, 2024

CareerSource CLM reports lowest March jobless rate since 2006

The unemployment rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region was 3.2% in March, down half a percentage point over the month and 2.5 percentage points lower than a year ago.

The last time the region’s March unemployment rate was this low was in 2006 when gas averaged $2.59 a gallon, a new Honda Accord cost $18,225, movie tickets were $6.55, and the average McDonald’s burger was $0.94.

Across the three-county region, the labor force in March 2022 was 206,937, up 1,478 over the year for an annual growth rate of 0.7%. The number of those with jobs was 200,218, an increase of 6,425 compared to March 2021. The number of unemployed was 6,719, a decrease of 1,055 from the previous month and 4,947 fewer than one year ago.

According to the preliminary employment numbers that were recently released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Levy and Marion Counties again held the lowest jobless rates in the region at 3.1%, both down 0.5 percentage points over the month. When compared to March 2021, the jobless rates for Levy and Marion Counties also decreased by 1.9 percentage points and 2.4 percentage points, respectively.

Citrus County’s jobless rate for March 2022 was 3.7%, a drop of 0.6 percentage points compared to the previous month, and a decrease of 2.7 percentage points compared to March 2021.

Dale French, CareerSource CLM’s executive vice president, said the report reflects a “trifecta of positive economic indicators.” French added, “You certainly have times when the labor force expands because more people flood the labor market looking for jobs that aren’t there, but anytime we see this kind of consistent new job creation, on top of fewer unemployed, we’re moving in the right direction.”

Here is a summary of March’s employment numbers for each county:

  • Marion County’s labor force increased by 197 to 142,460, the number of those with jobs rose by 870 to 138,014, and the number of unemployed dropped by 673 to 4,446. Compared to the same time last year, when the jobless rate was 5.5%, the number of employed increased by 4,531 and the number of unemployed dropped by 3,330.
  • Citrus County’s labor force grew by 130 to 47,545, the number of employed climbed to 45,789 for an increase of 428, and the number of unemployed dropped by 298 to 1,756. Compared to March 2021, when the unemployment rate was 6.4%, there are now 1,391 more workers and 1,294 fewer unemployed.
  • Levy County’s labor force expanded by just 3 to 16,932, the number of those with jobs increased by 87 to 16,415, and the number of unemployed decreased by 84 to 517. Over the year, when the jobless rate was 5.0%, there are 503 more employed and 323 fewer unemployed.

Non-agricultural employment in the Ocala metropolitan statistical area, which covers all of Marion County, was 112,100 in March, an increase of 2,400 jobs over the year for a 2.2% annual growth rate.

Compared to all the metros across the state, the Ocala MSA posted the second fastest annual job growth rate in the information industry at 20%, growing faster in the metro area than statewide.

In addition to the information industry, which added 600 new jobs over the year, the following industries gained jobs in the Ocala MSA:

  • Trade, transportation, and utilities: +1,500 jobs for a 5.5% job growth rate.
  • Leisure and hospitality: +700 jobs for a growth rate of 5.6%.
  • 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.
  • Education and health services: +100 jobs for a 0.5 percentage point increase.
  • Other services: +100 jobs, growing at 3.4%.

Industries losing jobs compared to March 2021 were government (-300 jobs) and professional and business services (-200 jobs).

In the Homosassa Springs MSA, which includes all of Citrus County, there were 33,900 non-farm jobs, an increase of 600 jobs from March 2021 for an annual growth rate of 1.8%.

Out of Florida’s 67 counties, Miami-Dade was the only one to post an increased unemployment rate.

Among the state’s 24 metro areas, the Ocala MSA’s unemployment rate tied with the Lakeland-Winter Haven MSA for the fourth highest rate. The Villages MSA, which includes a portion of Marion County, continued to hold the third highest rate.