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Pinellas unemployment drops in February
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After Pinellas County reported a .5 percent increase in unemployment in January, the numbers took a downward turn in February, according to the latest information from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

February’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.3 percent – down from 6.4 percent the month before. The report also showed an increase in the labor force, going from 442,231 in January to 447,776 in February. The number of employed increased to 419,405 in February compared to 414,121 the month before. However, more Pinellas County residents were reportedly unemployed – 261 more.

Still, 5,587 more had jobs than in February 2013, when Pinellas County’s unemployment rate was 7.7 percent.

Pinellas tied with the state, which reported no change in the not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate from January. The federal unemployment also remained unchanged, holding steady at 7 percent.

The county is in a tie with Hillsborough, Columbia and Suwannee counties, ranking 34 out of the state’s 67 counties. Hendry County ranks No.1 with the highest unemployment rate of 9.8 percent. Monroe County ranks No. 67 with 3.8 percent.

Unemployment held steady at 6.5 percent for the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties. Hernando tied with Putnam and Madison counties for the No. 4 rank with 8.6 percent unemployment. Pasco tied with Levy and Highlands counties for the No. 16 spot with 7.3 percent unemployment.

In 2013, the local MSA led the state with the most over-the-year job gains for non-agricultural employment. So far in 2014, it has held the No. 3 position, adding 29,600 jobs. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford MSA now holds the No. 1 spot with 30,400 new jobs. Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall came in second with 30,400 jobs.

The industry gaining the most jobs statewide was trade, transportation and utilities with 48,400 jobs. Professional and business services gained 47,900 jobs and construction added 39,200 jobs. The only industry reporting lost jobs was total government with a loss of 1,000 jobs.

Gov. Rick Scott said within the local MSA the largest job gains were in professional and business services with 10,000 new jobs, followed by trade, transportation and utilities with 6,700 jobs and education and health services with 5,500 jobs.

The local MSA was first in online job demand with 41,292 openings posted in February. It also was first in the number of STEM jobs – 10,825 job openings in February. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
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