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Thursday, Feb 23, 2017
Business News

Tampa Bay area unemployment rate edged up in May

Unemployment in the Tampa Bay region climbed to 6.2 percent in May from 5.9 percent the previous month, but remained well below the 7.3 percent rate posted a year ago.

Those figures, which are not seasonally adjusted, are slightly below the state and national rates, which both stand at a seasonally adjusted 6.3 percent.

The state unemployment rate is up slightly from April when it stood at 6.2 percent, according to a jobs report released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity on Friday. But it is down from last year, when the rate was 7.5 percent.

While the Tampa area is one of the state’s strong performers in job creation these days, there is a down side, said Mekael Teshome, the Florida economist with PNC’s Financial Services Group.

“The weak spot in Florida, and even Tampa’s economic story, is that a lot of job growth is concentrated on the lower end of the service scale,” Teshome said. “We’ve got retail, leisure and hospitality accounting for a significant chunk of job growth” and those jobs don’t necessarily come with robust salaries. “Construction is adding jobs, but... we are down about 20 percent from our previous peak. With that much slack in that industry, it’s not paying as well as it did before the recession.”

Unemployment throughout Florida should continue to decline, but as the economy bounces back, more people are out looking for work, so the decline will be slow, Teshome said.

Hillsborough County’s jobless rate was 6 percent in May, according to figures, which are not seasonally adjusted. The rate rose from 5.6 percent in April, but was down from 7 percent in May 2013.

The Pinellas County rate for May was 5.9 percent, up from 5.7 percent last month, but down from 7.1 percent a year ago. Pasco County’s unemployment was 6.8 percent, compared with 6.5 percent in April and 8.1 percent a year ago. And Hernando County’s rate was 7.8 percent in May, compared with 7.5 percent the previous month and 9.1 percent in May 2013.

“Key drivers of Florida’s economy are shifting into high gear,” Teshome said. “Tourism is doing well, housing and in-migration, all doing well and getting better. Those are the pillars of Florida’s economy. Job growth is proceeding at a pretty quick pace... but, income isn’t really moving a whole lot.”

Florida’s seasonally adjusted total nonagricultural employment was 7.76 million in May, a decrease of 17,900 jobs (-0.2 percent) over the month, according to the DEO report. The state gained 218,800 jobs over the year, up 2.9 percent.

The other two states experiencing significant jobs losses in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, were Arizona (-8,400) and South Dakota (-2,300).

Nationally, the number of jobs was up in May by 1.7 percent over the year. Florida’s annual job growth rate has exceeded the national rate since April 2012.

Over the year, 31 states had statistically significant changes in employment, all positive, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. The largest job increases occurred in Texas (+383,100), followed by California (+340,200) and Florida (+218,800).

yhammett@tampatrib.com

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