Pinellas County’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in February was down to 3.3 percent, according to the report released March 22 by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

February’s job report showed declining numbers for the county, local metropolitan statistical area, state and nation. Pinellas’ unemployment rate in January was 3.7 percent.

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater MSA, which includes Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, reported an unemployment rate of 3.4 percent, compared to 3.9 percent in January, which were the same numbers reported by the state. The national rate was 4.1 percent in February compared to 4.4 percent the month before.

Pinellas also saw a rise in its labor force at 494,547 in February. January’s labor force was 489,410. Only 16,156 were reportedly without a job in February compared to 18,053 the first month of 2019. In February 2018, the labor force was 488, 592. The unemployment rate was 3.5 percent and 17,264 were in need of employment.

The local MSA placed third among the state’s 24 metro areas for over-the-year job gains. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford had the biggest gains, 49,800 new jobs, followed by Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall with 26,300 new jobs, and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater was a close third with 26,200 new jobs.

The industries with the highest job growth were professional and business services with 8,500 new jobs, and financial services with 5,000 new jobs.

The local MSA remained first among the state’s metro area in job demand with 58,143 openings in February. It also ranked first in demand for high-skill, high-wage STEM occupations with 19,235 openings.

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater MSA tied with four other metro areas for the rank of 12. Homosassa Springs MSA ranked No. 1 with the highest unemployment rate, 5.3 percent. Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin MSA ranked 24 with the lowest rate of 3 percent.

Pinellas tied with six other counties, including Hillsborough, for the rank of 45 among the state’s 67 counties. Pasco tied with DeSoto County for the rank of 28 with an unemployment rate of 3.8 percent. Hernando County tied with Calhoun and Putnam for the rank of 9 with an unemployment rate of 4.6 percent, the highest in the local MSA.

Gulf County ranked No. 1 with the highest unemployment rate in the state, 6.2 percent, and Monroe County ranked 67 with a rate of 2.4 percent.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.