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

OCALA, Fla. (March 26, 2021) – One year ago, the region’s unemployment rate for February was 4.2 percent and manufacturing in the Ocala metro area posted the second fastest annual job growth rate in the state.

At the time, Rusty Skinner, CEO of CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion, said that while all three counties would “undoubtedly see those numbers turn downward” as layoffs related to COVID-19 began to be felt, “it is significant that our region is starting off from a position of economic strength.”

The hope, Skinner had said, is that such strength would “help our region rebound when we hit the other side of COVID-19.”

Before that could begin to happen, the region’s jobless rate topped out at 12.9 percent in April 2020 with 24,342 out of work, 164,812 people employed and a labor force that had shrunk to 189,154.

According to February’s preliminary employment numbers, released today by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the unemployment rate in the CareerSource CLM region was 4.5 percent in February 2021, a drop of 0.4 percentage point over the month and just 0.3 percentage point higher than the region’s year ago rate. There were 9,351 unemployed in the region.

February’s labor force was 206,130 – up 377 over the year, but 41,318 more than when the region was most affected by COVID impacts. The number of employed in the region was 196,779, an increase of 2,730 over the month and 31,967 more than at the height of the pandemic’s impact.

Skinner said “the February report indicates that our area is continuing its recovery from the disruption of the pandemic.”

“All three counties show growth in their labor force numbers and the number of persons employed,” he continued. “Correspondingly, both the number of unemployed and the rate of unemployment have declined.”

Levy County continues to hold the lowest jobless rate in the region at 3.8 percent, down 0.4 percent point over the month; Marion County followed with a rate of 4.4 percent, a drop of 0.3 percent point; and Citrus County’s rate was 5.1 percent, a decrease of half a percent. Florida’s not seasonally adjusted jobless rate – a measure that matches the way local rates are calculated – was 5.0 percent, down 0.3 percentage point over the month and 1.9 percent higher than February 2020.

Skinner said a trend he is seeing in all three counties is “an increase in the number of job openings listed with us (CareerSource CLM) and a slight uptick in the number of visitors to our Career Centers that are seeking assistance in finding employment compared to the number of persons seeking help in their re-employment assistance claims (unemployment compensation).”

Here are how the February jobs numbers break down for each county:

Citrus County’s labor force in February expanded by 825 to 47,238, the number of employed increased by 1,003 to 44,824 and the number of unemployed fell by 178 to 2,414. That is little changed compared to February 2020 when the unemployment rate was also 5.1 percent: the labor force contracted by 223, there were 218 fewer employed and 5 fewer unemployed.

Levy County’s labor force increased over the month by 222 to 17,175, the number of those with jobs rose by 283 to 16,523 and the number of jobless dropped by 61 to 652. Over the year, those numbers represent 25 more in the labor force, an increase of 191 employed and an increase of 216 unemployed when the unemployment rate was 3.7 percent.

Marion County’s labor force grew by 1,057 to 141,717, the number of those with jobs increased by 1,444 to 135,432, and the number of unemployed decreased by 387 to 6,285. Compared to the same time last year, when the jobless rate was 3.9 percent, the labor force expanded by 384, the number of dropped by 401 and the number of jobless rose by 785.

Nonfarm employment in the Ocala metropolitan statistical area, which covers all of Marion County, was 108,100, a decrease of 1,700 jobs (-1.5 percent) over the year but an increase of 700 compared to January’s preliminary report.

The Ocala MSA posted the fastest annual job growth rate compared to all the metro areas in the state in manufacturing at 3.2 percent and the second highest annual job growth in manufacturing with 300 new jobs.

Additionally, the Ocala metro had the second fastest annual job growth rate compared to all the metro areas in the state in trade, transportation, and utilities (+4.2 percent) in February 2021 as well as the second highest annual job growth with 1,100 new jobs.

Other industries gaining jobs over the year were mining, logging, and construction (+100 jobs); and professional and business services (+100 jobs).

Industries that lost jobs over the year were leisure and hospitality (-1,600 jobs); education and health services (-700 jobs); government (-600 jobs); other services (-200 jobs); information (-100 jobs); and financial activities (-100 jobs) industries lost jobs over the year.

In February, nonfarm employment in the Homosassa Springs MSA, which includes all of Citrus County, was 32,600, a decrease of 600 jobs (-1.8 percent) over the year.

Statewide, 66 counties saw unemployment rates drop over the month, the exception was Osceola County where the jobless rate rose from 8.4 percent to 8.8 percent.

Citrus County dropped from the 5th to 8th highest jobless rate, tying with Highlands and Lake counties; Marion County moved from 15th to 19th highest rate, tying with Indian River, Seminole and Taylor counties; and Levy County inched up in the rankings from 35th to 34th highest, tying with Jackson and Leon counties.

Among the states metro areas, the Homosassa Springs MSA dropped from 2nd to 5th highest, tying again with the Sebring MSA; and the Ocala MSA slipped from the 7th highest rate to 10th, tying with the Sebastian-Vero Beach MSA. With an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent, the Villages MSA, which includes a portion of Marion County, held the 8th highest rate.

The region’s preliminary employment summary for March will be released on Friday, April 16.

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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 supported by the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and other agencies as part of awards totaling $8.7 million (revised annually). 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, call 800-434-5627, ext. 7878 or e-mail accommodations@careersourceclm.com. Please make request at least three business days in advance. Stay connected with CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion on FacebookTwitterYouTubeInstagram and LinkedIn

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