Media Contact: Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
Direct: 352.291.9559 Mobile: 352.816.1264
lbyrnes@careersourceclm.com

OCALA, Fla. (May 22, 2020) – The unemployment rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region was 12.9 percent in April, up 7.4 percent over the month, 9.1 percent higher than the region’s rate a year ago and 0.4 percentage point lower than the state rate of 13.3 percent. There were 24,342 unemployed, an increase of 13,049 without jobs since March and 16,723 more than April 2019 when the jobless rate was 3.8 percent.

The labor force was 189,154, down 14,633 over the month and a loss of 10,451 or 5.2 percent over the year. There were 164,812 employed, which represents a one-month drop of 27,682 and a decrease of 27,174 compared to April 2019.

Nonfarm employment in the Ocala/Marion County metropolitan statistical area was 100,400, a decrease of 6,600 or 6.2 percent over the year. Mining, logging and construction was the only industry in the Ocala MSA that gained jobs over the year. At 2.4 percent, adding 200 jobs, it grew faster in the metro area than statewide.

According to the preliminary jobs report for April, released today by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Levy County had the lowest jobless rate in the region at 11 percent, up 6.1 percent point over the month; Marion County followed with a rate of 12.1 percent, an increase of 6.9 percent; and Citrus County’s rate was 15.8 percent, up 9.1 percent. Florida’s not seasonally adjusted jobless rate – a measure that matches the way local rates are calculated – was 13.3 percent, an increase of 9 percent over the month and up from 2.9 percent a year ago. The nation’s jobless rate was 14.4 percent, up from 4.5 percent in March and an increase of 11.1 percent higher than a year ago.

Rusty Skinner, CEO of CareerSource CLM, said that “as painful as it is to see these kinds of numbers, it was not unexpected.”

“In the previous March report, we were just beginning to see the impacts of COVID-19 on our economy, but we knew those would show up in April,” he said. “For example, leisure and hospitality, which was ‘unchanged’ in March took a major hit in April, losing 2,400 jobs for a drop over the year of 17.4 percent. The hope is that as businesses continue to reopen, we’ll reverse course. There’s no telling, though, how long it will take to fully recover.”

Skinner said that CareerSource CLM is doing everything possible to assist businesses and job seekers. He noted that all career centers in the region are open, by appointment only, to focus primarily on the needs of those laid off due to COVID-19. In-person, career center services include job searches, Welfare Transition and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. Though CareerSource CLM does not run the state’s Reemployment Assistance (unemployment compensation) program, staff may also be able to help claimants decipher issues with their benefits and reset PINs.

Additionally, all business and job seeker services continue to be provided virtually by phone, email, Live Chat and online. CareerSource CLM has also launched a new Help is Here outreach effort to:

· Connect job seekers and businesses to critical resources for local, personalized help

· Develop innovative solutions to generate job recovery/retention and business continuity, driving economic recovery

· Provide links to state and federal assistance programs

Skinner added that as of today’s date, there are 128 businesses working with CareerSource CLM to actively fill multiple positions, that’s up from 87 businesses a month ago.

“I think it surprises people to learn there are robust recruiting efforts going on throughout our region,” he said. Among the myriad businesses now hiring are  ANCORP, AutoZone stores and distribution center, Bayfront Health Seven Rivers, Chewy, Dollar Tree Distribution Center, and the cities of Ocala, Inverness and Crystal River.

In March, the Ocala MSA led all other metro areas for fastest job growth in manufacturing, while in April over-the-year job growth dropped by 600 jobs or 6.5 percent. But Skinner said that a variety of manufacturers have ramped up hiring – including Capri Furniture, Cardinal Glass, Chariot Eagle, Custom Window Systems, E-One and Southwind Manufacturing – which should be reflected in next month’s jobs report.

Here’s a breakdown of each county’s jobs numbers for April:

Citrus County’s labor force shrank by 3,334 over the month to 44,560, the number of employed decreased by 7,170 to 37,536 and the number of unemployed rose by 3,836 to 7,024. Compared to April 2019, when the jobless rate was 4.5 percent, the labor force has fallen by 2,406, the number of employed has dropped by 7,315 and the number of unemployed increased by 4,909.

Levy County’s labor force contracted by 1,761to 15,172, the number of those with jobs fell by 2,598 to 13,508 and the number of unemployed rose by 837 to 1,664. That’s an over-the-year drop of 1,470 in the labor force, 2,544 fewer working and 1,074 more unemployed compared to when the rate was 3.5 percent.

Marion County’s labor force fell by 9,538 to 129,422, the number of those with jobs dropped by 17,914 to 113,768 and the number of unemployed increased 8,376 to 15,654. That’s 6,575 fewer than the size of the labor force a year ago, 17315 fewer employed and 10,740 more unemployed compared to April 2019 when the jobless rate was 3.6 percent.

In April, Citrus County held the fourth highest unemployment rate in the state among all 67 counties; Marion County was 29th highest; and Levy County tied with Putnam County with the 36th highest rate. Osceola County topped the state’s highest rate for counties at 20.3 percent and Lafayette County held the lowest rate at 5.5 percent.

Among the metro areas, the Homosassa Springs/Citrus County MSA held the second highest rate and the Ocala MSA held the 18th highest rate. The Villages, which includes a portion of Marion County, had the state’s 17th highest rate among metros.

Other than mining, logging and construction, no industries grew in the Ocala MSA. In addition to leisure and hospitality (-2,400 jobs); other industries that lost jobs over the year were trade, transportation and utilities (-1,300); professional and business services (-800); manufacturing (-600); other services (-600); education and health services (-500); government (-300); financial activities (-200); and information (-100).

The Homosassa Springs MSA’s nonfarm employment was 30,300, a decrease of 3,300 jobs (-9.8 percent) over the year.

May’s preliminary employment summary will be released on June 19.

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CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion is a member of CareerSource Florida and a proud partner of the American Job Center network. CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion is an equal opportunity employer/program. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities and in Spanish. All voice telephone numbers listed above may be reached by persons using TTY/TDD equipment via the Florida Relay Service at 711. If you need accommodations, please call 800-434-5627, ext. 7878 or e-mail accommodations@careersourceclm.com. Please make request at least three business days in advance. Like us on Facebook follow us on TwitterYouTubeInstagram and LinkedIn.
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