Pinellas County’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5% in December, down from 5.2% reported in November, according to the Jan. 22 report from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

The rate is double the 2.5% reported in December 2019.

The county’s labor force increased slightly to 488,857 compared to 487,717 in November. The labor force in December 2019 was 497,735. Nearly twice as many were unemployed in December 2020, 24,290, compared to 12,526 in 2019. In November, 25,349 were in need of a job.

The state’s not seasonally adjusted rate for December was 5.8% down from 6.2% in November and up from 2.5% in December last year. The United States rate for December was 6.5%, up slightly from 6.4% in November and up a lot from the 3.4% reported in December 2019.

The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, reported a not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 5.2% in December, 5.5% in November and 2.7% in December 2019.

The MSA’s highest unemployment rate reported during the pandemic was 13.2% in April. Private-sector employment decreased by 47,900 jobs (3.8%) over the year. Not surprisingly, the industry losing the most jobs was leisure and hospitality, down 26,400 jobs.

Two major industries gained jobs over the year: manufacturing reported new 900 jobs and other services had an increase of 700 jobs.

The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater MSA tied with Port St. Lucie and Sebastian-Vero Beach MSAs for the rank of No. 12 out of 24 metro areas. Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall Metropolitan Division ranked No. 1 with the highest unemployment rate of 7.3%. Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin MSA ranked No. 24 with the lowest rate of 4.2%.

Out of the state’s 67 counties, Pinellas tied with Bay, Charlotte, Jefferson and Washington counties for the rank of No. 34. Of the other counties in the local MSA, Pasco tied with Hardee, Indian River, Leon and Seminole counties for the rank of No. 27 with an unemployment rate of 5.2%.

Hillsborough tied with Columbia, Duval and Jackson counties for the rank of No. 23 with an unemployment rate of 5.3%. Hernando tied with Madison and Sumter counties for the rank of No. 14 with an unemployment rate of 5.9%.

Osceola County ranked No. 1 with the highest unemployment rate in the state, 8.7%. Wakulla and St. Johns counties tied for the rank of 66 with the lowest rate of 3.6%.

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