Contact: Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
352-291-5999 | 352-816-1264
OCALA, Fla. (March 27, 2020) – The unemployment rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region was 3.9 percent in February, down 0.2 percentage point over the month and 0.5 percentage point lower than the region’s rate a year ago.
The labor force was 203,400, up 2,417 over the year. There were 195,387 employed, an increase of 3,153 compared to February 2019, and 8,013 unemployed, a drop of 736, when the region’s jobless rate was 4.4 percent. Compared to January’s numbers, there were 1,192 more jobs and 283 fewer jobless.
The Ocala/Marion County metropolitan statistical area posted the second fastest annual job growth rate in manufacturing, at 4.4 percent, compared to all metro areas in the state.
Rusty Skinner, CEO of CareerSource CLM, said that “we’ll undoubtedly see those numbers turn downward in next month’s report, as layoffs related to the Coronavirus begin to be felt, but it is significant that our region is starting off from a position of economic strength. That will, hopefully, help our region rebound when we hit the other side of COVID-19.”
To handle increased demand for reemployment services at a time when, for safety reasons, career centers are closed, Skinner said that staff will be working virtually by phone, email and online to help those who need jobs and businesses dealing with extra stresses during this time of social distancing.
Skinner noted that, due to unprecedented demand, one area already experiencing difficulties is the state’s Reemployment Assistance (Unemployment Insurance) program, which is run by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
“We are sympathetic to those who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and who are frustrated in their efforts to submit claims online,” Skinner said. “We would be glad to assist them and have asked DEO to provide us with the access to do so. Unfortunately, our staff, working remotely, is facing the same issues with the system that they are working from their home computers.”
Those visiting www.careersourceclm.com can access staff via Live Chat, phone (800-434-5627) and email options. Additionally, job seekers and businesses hit by COVID-19 can submit streamlined requests for services available on the website via COVID-19 Quick Links and Live Chat box, as well as on Candidates and Businesses pages.
According to February’s preliminary jobs report released today by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Levy County maintained the lowest jobless rate in the region at 3.5 percent, down 0.2 percentage point over the month; Marion County followed with a rate of 3.7 percent, also down 0.2 percentage point; and Citrus County’s rate was 4.1 percent, a drop of 0.1 percentage point. Florida’s not seasonally adjusted jobless rate – a measure that matches the way local rates are calculated – is 2.8. percent, decrease of 0.2 percentage points over the month and down from 3.3 percent a year ago.
Here’s a snapshot of each county’s jobs numbers for February:
Citrus County’s labor force rose by 382 over the month to 47,676, the number of employed increased by 435 to 45,398 and the number of unemployed dipped by 53 to 2,278. Compared to February 2019, when the jobless rate was 5.2 percent, the labor force has remained virtually the same – contracting by 9 – while the number of employed rose by 171 and there was a decrease of 180 who are unemployed.
Levy County’s labor force expanded by 128 to 16,936, the number of those with jobs increased by 154 to 16,346, and the number of unemployed fell by 26 to 590. That’s an over-the-year increase of 115 in the labor force, 198 more working and drop of 83 unemployed compared to when the rate was 4.0 percent.
Marion County’s labor force grew by 399 to 138,788, the number of those with jobs rose by 603 to 133,643 and the number of unemployed decreased 204 to 5,145. The labor force has expanded by 2,311, there are 2,784 more employed and 473 than fewer unemployed compared to a year ago when the county’s jobless rate was 4.1 percent.
Nonfarm employment in February 2020 for the Ocala MSA was 107,900, an increase of 1,300 jobs over the year for a growth rate of 1.2 percent.
The Homosassa Springs MSA’s nonfarm employment was 33,600, a decrease of 200 jobs (-0.6 percent) over the year.
In addition to manufacturing, which grew by 400 new jobs to 9,500 over the year, industries that grew faster in the metro area than statewide were mining, logging, and construction at 6.1 percent , adding 500 new jobs for a total of 8,700 employed; and government at 2.6 percent, which added 400 jobs for a total of 15,800.
Additionally, trade, transportation and utilities gained 200 jobs over the year; education and health services added 200 new jobs; and leisure and hospitality added 100 jobs.
Industries losing jobs over the year were professional business services (-300), information (-100) and financial services (-100).
The other services industry was unchanged over the year.
In February, unemployment rates fell over the month in 64 of Florida’s 67 counties and held steady in three counties; over the year, rates dropped in 64 counties and remained the same in two.
Citrus County reclaimed the highest rate, Marion County tied with Gulf and St. Lucie with the 11th highest rate, and Levy County tied with Charlotte, Holmes, Liberty, Polk and Washington counties with the 17th highest rate.
Among the metro areas, the Homosassa Springs/Citrus County MSA held the highest rate and the Ocala MSA held with the fourth highest rate. The Villages, which includes a portion of Marion County, had the state’s second highest rate among metros.
March’s preliminary employment summary will be released on April 17.
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