Florida's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased slightly for the second straight month, hitting 11.7 percent in August although other economic indicators are looking up, state officials said Friday.
Legislative economist Amy Baker predicted the uptick earlier this week because people who had stopped looking for work are returning to the job market as the economy improves. Those who drop out of the labor pool are not counted in employment statistics.
August's 11.7 percent rate continues to mean nearly 1.1 million Floridians are out of work. Florida again tops the national jobless rate of 9.6 percent.
"Historically, mixed signals from economic indicators during the bottom of a recession are common until the economy recovers," said Cynthia Lorenzo, director of Florida's Agency for Workforce Innovation. "Fluctuations in rates of unemployment and job growth are typical examples."
Florida's unemployment rate peaked in March at 12.3 percent, the highest since the federal government began compiling jobless statistics in the 1970s. It then started dropping and was at 11.4 percent in June before rising again to 11.5 percent in July and 11.7 percent in August.
The state lost 16,000 nonagricultural jobs in August for an employment total of 7.2 million. Florida, though, gained 29,800 jobs since August 2009 for an annual job growth rate of 0.4 percent.
Small as that increase might be, it marks the second straight month of positive over-the-year job growth after three years of losses. It's more than offset, though, by growth in the state's workforce. Florida added 35,000 more workers over the prior 12 months including 12,000 in August.
It'll take the creation of nearly 900,0000 more new jobs for the state to get back to pre-recession employment levels and at the current pace that won't happen until 2014, Baker told the Legislative Budget Commission on Tuesday.
The segment showing the biggest over-the-year employment growth has been private education and health services with a gain of 33,500 jobs, or 3.2 percent.
Others showing growth are trade, transportation and utilities, up 18,900 jobs (1.3 percent); professional and business services, up 11,000 jobs (1.1 percent); leisure and hospitality, up 9,300 jobs (1 percent), and other services, up 5,500 jobs (1.8 percent).
The employment losers since August 2009 are construction, down 17,800 jobs (4.7 percent); financial activities, down 15,000 jobs (3.2 percent); information, down 8,000 jobs (5.7 percent); manufacturing, down 6,000 jobs (1.9 percent), and government, down 1,400 jobs (0.1 percent).
The biggest over-the-year job growth has occurred in the Gainesville metropolitan area, which added 1,100 nonseasonally adjusted jobs (0.9 percent) and Bradenton-Sarasota-North Port, also adding 1,100 jobs (0.4 percent), followed by Pensacola and Tallahassee, each with 800 new jobs (0.5 percent).
The biggest losers were Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, down 6,200 jobs (0.3 percent); Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, down 4,300 jobs (0.4 percent); Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, down 2,500 jobs (1.3 percent), and Ocala, down 1,200 jobs (1.3 percent).
Hendry was the county with the highest local unemployment rate of 20.6 percent in August followed by Flagler, 16.4 percent; Indian River, 16.2 percent; St. Lucie, 15.6 percent, and Hernando, 15 percent. Many of those with high rates have had seasonal declines in agriculture related jobs.
The lowest county rates were in Liberty, 7.5 percent; Walton, 7.8 percent; Okaloosa, 8 percent; Lafayette, 8.4 percent, and Monroe, 8.5 percent. Most of the low-rate counties have relatively high government employment and some have had seasonal tourism increases.