Pinellas County residents have something more to be thankful for this holiday season as unemployment continues its downward swing.
State officials reported Nov. 16 that October had the lowest unemployment rate since December 2008. Florida’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the month was 8.2 percent, compared to 8.6 percent in September and 10.2 percent in October 2011.
The U.S. not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.5 percent in October, 7.6 percent in September and 8.5 percent in October 2011.
Pinellas County’s unemployment rate continues to decline, dropping to 7.9 percent in October, compared to 8.4 percent in last month and 10.2 percent in October 2011. October’s labor force of 452,393 was similar to the previous month of 452,280 and slightly above October 2011 at 445,598.
The most telling difference is the number of unemployed: 35,840 in October 2012 compared to 45,252 in 2011, and 38,076 in September 2012. Statewide in October of this year, 768,000 people were unemployed and 12,258,000 in the United States.
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metro Statistical Area continues to hold the No. 2 spot, behind Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, for most over-the-year job growth of the 23 metro areas. The local MSA was one of 22 in the state with job gains this year. The state reports that October was the 27th consecutive month that number of jobs in Florida has increased.
The industry reporting the most job gains is professional and business services, followed by trade, transportation and utilities; private education and health services; leisure and hospitality; and financial activities.
Total government accounted for the most job losses, followed by construction, other services, information and manufacturing.
Pinellas County was 39th on the list of 67 counties ranked by percent of unemployment. Hendry County ranked No. 1 with an unemployment rate of 12.6 percent and Monroe ranked last with 4.7 percent.
The local MSA at 8.2 percent unemployment tied with Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano Beach MSA for the No. 14 rank. Last month Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater reported an 8.8 percent unemployment rate. Unemployment in October 2011 was 10.5 percent.
For statistical purposes, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater MSA includes Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties.
Pinellas County had the lowest unemployment of the four counties. Hernando County was in a tie with Okeechobee County for the No. 7 rank with an unemployment rate of 9.8 percent. Pasco County with 9.1 percent unemployment tied with Taylor and Marion County for the No. 14 rank. Hillsborough ranks at No. 38 with unemployment at 8 percent.
Economic growth on the rise
Floridians are looking for positively toward the future, according to October’s University of Florida’s Consumer Confidence Index report. More people are moving to Florida rather than moving away.
Median house prices up 7.4 percent over the year, and the backlog of existing homes on the market was down by 40 percent from September 2011.
The state is exporting more than it imports, resulting in a trade surplus of more than $24 billion.
“The economy is clearly in recovery,” said Chris McCarty, director of the Consumer Confidence Index survey.
McCarty tempers the optimism by saying continued recovery depends on what happens in Congress and how it deals with the “impending fiscal cliff” and extensions of federal tax cuts currently in place.
“If Congress and the White House cannot agree on a solution, the full impact of the fiscal cliff will almost certainly result in a recession at a time when the country and Florida, are recovering from the biggest recession in history,” McCarty said.