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Ocala MSA posts state’s fastest job growth rate in two key sectors

OCALA, Fla. (March 13, 2017) – Employment in Citrus, Levy and Marion counties tracks state and national trends for January, with an increase both over the month and, for the first time in recent memory, over the year in unemployment. But that increase is tempered by a strong boost in the number of those with jobs.

The unemployment rate for the three-county region was 6.6 percent, up 0.8 percentage point over the month and 0.3 percentage point higher than the region’s year ago rate of 6.3 percent, according to the jobs report released today by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).

Out of an expanded labor force of 199,922, there were 13,140 unemployed or 1,616 more than the previous month and 921 more than January 2016. At the same time, there are 186,782 people with jobs in the region or 5,527 more than the same time last year.

Additionally, the Ocala MSA had the fasted job growth rate compared to all other metros in the state in professional and business services (+11.2 percent) and trade, transportation and utilities (+6.6 percent).
In all, four nonfarm industry sectors grew at a faster rate in the Ocala metro than statewide and no industries lost jobs over the year.

Rusty Skinner, CareerSource CLM’s CEO, said that in the past, the three-county area has seen some “significant swings” from the preceding December’s numbers because DEO recalibrates its data regarding employment for the January report.

“That is not the case here,” Skinner said, noting that the labor force and employment numbers have expanded in all three counties. “That is generally perceived to be a positive sign. I think what we’re seeing is more people are in the labor force, seeking employment because of expanding employment and job markets.”

Skinner said that another positive indicator is the fact that more than 40 employers are set to participate in the Marion County Spring Career Fair on March 21 and 20 are on tap for the March 23 Citrus County Spring Career Fair.

In addition to job-market optimism, Skinner said another factor that may contribute to the bump in unemployment is that in January employers typically tend to make seasonal staff adjustments.

“When the February report is issued later this month, we will be able to see if some of the optimism of job seekers has resulted in their absorption into the ranks of the employed,” he said, adding that if the region’s employment trend of the last five years continues, all three counties will see the unemployment rate drop in February.

The following is a breakdown of preliminary employment numbers for each county:

  • Citrus County’s labor force increased by 483 to 47,749, the number of employed rose slightly by 22 to 44,146, and the number of those without jobs increased by 461  3,603 over the month, an increase of 181 over the year. The unemployment rate for January 2016 was 7.2 percent.
  • Levy County’s labor force expanded by 114 to 16,760, the number of employed was virtually unchanged with an increase of 12 to 15,810 and the number of unemployed increased by 102 to 950. The unemployment rate a year ago was 5.5 percent.
  • Marion County’s labor force expanded by 1,053 to 135,413, the number of employed increased by 111 to 126,826 and the number of jobless rose by 1,053 to 8,587. While that’s 695 more unemployed over the year, the number of those with jobs increased by 5,218 compared to January 2016 when the unemployment rate was 6.1 percent.

The boost to the region’s employment numbers was largely fueled by a 4.4 percent over-the-year job growth rate the Ocala Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The Ocala metro posted 102,700 nonfarm jobs in January, down 1,500 jobs over the month, but an increase of 4,300 jobs compared to January 2016.

The unemployment rate for the region, Levy County continues to hold the lowest unemployment rate in the region, at 5.7 percent, an increase of 0.6 percentage point over the month and up 0.2 percentage point compared to January 2016; Marion County follows again with a jobless rate of 6.3 percent, up 0.7 percent over the month and 0.2 percent over the year; and Citrus County at 7.5 percent, an increase of 0.9 percent since December 2016 and 0.3 percentage point compared to a year ago.

The nation’s jobless rate as well as Florida’s rate – both seasonally and not seasonally adjusted – also ticked up over the month. The not seasonally adjusted rates, which most closely mirror local data, are 5.1 percent and 5.2 percent, up 0.6 percentage point and 0.5 percentage points respectively over the month. But while Florida’s rate increased 0.2 percent over the year, the national rate dropped 0.2 percent.

According to DEO, the unemployment rates increased in all but two of Florida’s 67 counties over the month. Compared to January 2016, rates rose in 59 counties, dropped in three and were unchanged in five.

Compared to December 2016, unemployment rates rose in all Florida’s 22 metro areas, and over the year, rates increased in 21 metros and were unchanged in one.

Among the counties, Citrus County’s rate ranked third highest behind Hendry County (8.1 percent) and Sumter County (7.6 percent); Marion County tied for 10th highest with Dixie and Holmes countie4s; and Levy County was in a five-way tie for 26th.

The Villages MSA posted the highest rate among the states metros, Homosassa Springs (Citrus County) was second and Ocala third.

Industries gaining jobs over the year were trade, transportation and utilities (+1,500 jobs); professional and business services (+1,000); education and health services (+800); mining, logging and construction (+600); leisure and hospitality (+100); manufacturing (+100); and government (+100).

Professional and business services (+11.2 percent); mining, logging and construction (+9.1 percent); trade, transportation and utilities (+6.6 percent); and education and health services (+4.5 percent) grew faster in the metro area than statewide over the year.

Information, financial activities, and other services were unchanged. No industries lost jobs over the year.

Nonfarm employment in the Homosassa Springs metro area (Citrus County) was 33,100, unchanged over the year.

The February employment report will be released on Friday, March 24.


CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion is a member of the CareerSource Florida network of workforce services and resources. 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 [email protected]. Please make request at least three business days in advance. Like us on Facebook follow us on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. CareerSource CLM is a proud partner of the American Job Centers network and member of CareerSource Florida.

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