As vaccinations for COVID-19 increase and the economic recovery from the pandemic continues, Florida’s jobless rate fell to 4.8 percent in January, far below the national average of 6.3 percent.
The state has experienced nine consecutive months of month-over-month job growth, gaining 1,700 private sector jobs in January, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity said Monday.
It’s the first time since the pandemic began that the rate has fallen below 5 percent.
The unemployment rate was down 0.3 percent from the revised December 2020 rate of 5.1 percent, and up 1.5 percentage points from a year ago.
Despite the pandemic and shutdowns that began a year ago, from April 2020 to January 2021, Florida gained 714,900 private sector jobs.
“Florida’s economy remains resilient under Governor DeSantis’ leadership as we continue to see sustained month-over-month job growth,” said Dane Eagle, the DEO’s executive director.
Out of a workforce of roughly 10 million, 482,000 Floridians were unemployed in January. The hospitality and leisure industry has been hit hardest, losing 284,100 jobs statewide in the last year, the agency said.
Palm Beach County’s unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in January, down from 14.7 percent reported in April 2020, the highest rate during the pandemic. Those numbers are not seasonally adjusted.
Julia Dattolo, president and CEO of CareerSource Palm Beach County, said, “We are seeing employment and economic growth due to extended federal relief, increased consumer spending, falling COVID cases, and expanded vaccine rollout.”
Palm Beach County’s private sector employment decreased by 28,400 jobs, a decline of 4.9 percent over the year. The industry losing the most jobs over the year was leisure and hospitality, decreasing by 14,700 jobs.
Professional and business services was the only major industry to gain jobs over the year, increasing by 3,400 jobs.
In Palm Beach County:
- Nearly 65 percent of the jobs in the county have been recovered since the period of highest unemployment in 2020.
- There are now 2,118 job openings compared to fewer than 400 in April 2020. The year-ago unemployment rate for January was 3.6 percent and the total number of jobs in the county dropped by 35,400 compared to a year ago.
- Total nonagricultural employment increased to 613,700 in January from 610,100 in December 2020.
The year is starting off strong for job seekers, and employers are having a difficult time finding people to fill some jobs.
Randy McDermott, metro market manager for Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast at staffing firm Robert Half International, said, “I think the business first attitude of the state’s governor has put people back to work in many ways. The fact the unemployment numbers continue to drop means more opportunity and more people working.”
McDermott said technical workers, accountants, and administrators are in high demand.
“There is a big spike in demand for tax accountants. People want to get their taxes filed. It’s one way to ensure they get the stimulus,” he said.
In healthcare there are job openings on the back-office side for workers to handle medical billing, insurance and verification which must be submitted properly.
“With a lot of the virus vaccines comes a lot of paperwork,” McDermott said.
“If you want a job, you can get one,” McDermott said. “The fact that the state unemployment rate is down to 4.8 percent and that there has been nine straight months of job growth is exciting.”