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Pinellas’ unemployment drops to 6.7 percent
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TALLAHASSEE - The latest numbers from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity show Pinellas County’s unemployment rate for August at 6.7 percent.

That’s excellent news. The county’s unemployment rate is down 2 percentage points from last year and .4 percent from July.

The not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area also declined from 7.3 percent in July to 7 percent in August, which is 2.1 percent lower than August 2012.

The local MSA, which includes Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, continues to lead the state in over-the-year job gains, adding 41,700 jobs. Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield is in second place, adding 22,700 jobs, followed by Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford with 19,400 jobs.

Pinellas County’s unemployment is lower than the state’s not seasonally adjusted number of 7.1 percent and the United States unemployment rate of 7.3 percent.

The county’s labor force declined slightly from last month going from 453,280 in July to 453,064 in August. In July, 32,040 people were reportedly unemployed in Pinellas, and 30,564 were unemployed in August. Records from August 2012 show that 38,677 people were unemployed.

The preliminary ranking of counties by unemployment rate, with the No. 1 position representing the highest unemployment, places Pinellas at No. 37 tied with Hillsborough and Escambia counties. Hernando County had the highest unemployment rate of counties within the local MSA at 8.5 percent and ranks No. 14. Pasco County tied with Washington County for the No. 20 spot with an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent.

Hendry County continues to rank highest with an unemployment rate of 15.4 percent and Monroe County has the lowest with a rate of 4 percent.

Gov. Rick Scott said in a news release that August was the sixth consecutive month that the state’s unemployment rate had remained below the national average. He said 365,500 private sector jobs had been created since December 2010. The Florida Economic Estimating Conference predicts that Florida will create nearly 1.1 million new jobs by 2018.

In August, Florida had 7,543,700 jobs – 131,400 more than the same month in 2012. The industry gaining the most jobs was trade, transportation and utilities with 52,400 jobs. Leisure and hospitality gained 21,900 jobs, and professional and business services gained 21,300.

After years of being the No. 1 industry for job losses, construction gained 19,500 jobs over the year.

Total government now leads the way in job losses with a decrease of 5,800 jobs followed by manufacturing with a decline of 700 jobs.

Pinellas County’s declining unemployment rate is likely tied to another banner year for tourism. According to Gov. Scott, the local MSA added 6,500 leisure and tourism jobs. Officials believe that 2013 may break last year’s record of $28.7 million in bed-tax collections. As of the end of July, the county had reportedly collected more than $27 million with two more months to go.

The industry adding the most jobs in the local area was professional and business services with 11,000, followed by education and health services at 10,700 jobs and trade, transportation and utilities with 9,600 jobs.

Revised to add local job-growth numbers.
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