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Unemployment rate increase ‘deceiving’

OCALA, Fla. (April 16, 2021) – The unemployment rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region was 5.6 percent in March, up 0.3 percentage point over the month but a full percentage point lower than the region’s year ago rate of 6.6 percent. The labor force was 209,326, down by 84 across all three counties, or lower than 0.1 percent, compared to March 2020.

According to preliminary employment numbers for March, released today by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, there were 11,811 unemployed in the region, an increase of 752 since February but 1,958 fewer than a year ago.

The number of employed in the region was 197,515, an increase of 1,083 over the month and 1,874 more than in March 2020. 

Levy County continues to hold the lowest jobless rate in the region at 5.0 percent, up 0.3 percentage point over the month; Marion County followed with a rate of 5.5 percent, also an increase of 0.3 percentage point; and Citrus County’s rate was 6.4 percent, likewise an increase of 0.3 percentage point. Florida’s not seasonally adjusted jobless rate – a measure that matches the way local rates are calculated – was 5.3 percent, up 0.2 percentage point over the month and 0.3 percentage point higher than March 2020.  

Rusty Skinner, CEO of CareerSource CLM, said the report indicates the economic recovery “continues to be well underway.”

“Strong labor force and employment expansion over the previous month are a solid indicator of the recovery of our businesses,” Skinner said. “The percentage increase in the unemployment rate is deceiving in this situation. While the rate increased, it indicated that more people were actually looking for work than the market could absorb.”

To further emphasize the growth, Skinner pointed to the increase in the number of employed noting that “these numbers were larger than the same time last year, at the very start of the pandemic.”

Additionally, Skinner said that the Ocala metropolitan statistical area, which covers all of Marion County, continued to lead the state in fastest and highest growth in key industries and that the Homosassa Springs MSA, which covers all of Citrus County, posted the fastest over-the- month job growth rate.

Here is a breakdown of the March jobs numbers for each county:

Citrus County’s labor force in March expanded by 1,353 to 48,994, the number of employed increased by 1,109 to 45,866 and the number of unemployed inched up by 244 to 3,128. Compared to March 2020 when the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent, the labor force grew by 252, there are 932 more employed and 680 fewer unemployed. 

Levy County’s labor force increased slightly over the month by 66 to 17,409, at 16,533 the number of those with jobs increased by 9, and the number of jobless rose by 57 to 876. Over the year, when the jobless rate was 5.9 percent, those numbers represent 278 more in the labor force, an increase of 409 employed and decrease of 131 unemployed. 

Marion County’s labor force grew by 416 to 142,923, the number of those with jobs fell by 35 to 135,116, and the number of unemployed increased by 451 to 7,807. Compared to the same time last year, when the jobless rate was 6.2 percent, the labor force contracted by 614, the number of employed expanded by 533 and the number of jobless dropped by 1,147.

Nonfarm employment in the Ocala metro area was 107,500, a decrease of 1,500 jobs (-1.4 percent) over the year but just 35 fewer than in February.

For the second consecutive month, the Ocala MSA posted both the fastest annual job growth rate compared to all the metro areas in the state in manufacturing at 4.2 percent and the second highest annual job growth in manufacturing with 400 new jobs for a total of 9,900 jobs.

Additionally, the Ocala metro tied for the second fastest annual job growth rate compared to all the metro areas in the state in trade, transportation, and utilities (+1.9 percent) in March 2021 as well as the second highest annual job growth with 500 new jobs for a total of 26,500 jobs.

Both the manufacturing and trade, transportation, and utilities industry sectors grew faster in the Ocala metro area than statewide over the year.

Professional and business services also gained over the year, adding 400 jobs for a total of 10,000 jobs.

Leisure and hospitality (-1,300 jobs); education and health services (-600 jobs); government  (-500 jobs); other services (-200 jobs); information (-100 jobs); and financial activities (-100 jobs) lost jobs over the year.

In March, nonfarm employment in the Homosassa Springs MSA, which includes all of Citrus County, was 33,300, unchanged from a year ago and 700 more jobs than in February, a 2.1 percent increase representing the fastest job growth rate over the month among all Florida metros.

Citrus County tied with Osceola County with the third highest jobless rate; Marion County moved from 19th to 11th highest rate, tying with Orange and Taylor counties; and Levy County tied with Charlotte and Pasco counties with the 23rd highest rate.

Among the states metro areas, the Homosassa Springs MSA held the third highest rate, the Ocala MSA posted the sixth highest rate. With an unemployment rate of 6.6 percent, the Villages MSA, which includes a portion of Marion County, held the second highest rate.

The region’s preliminary employment summary for April will be released on Friday, May 21.


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 [email protected]. 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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