Marion’s unemployment rate jumps to 5.3% in January

Marion County’s unemployment rate jumped to 5.3% in January, up 1.4 percentage points in one month because the area’s workforce was recalculated, according the latest unemployment report released by the state on Monday.

Marion County’s January unemployment rate, which has not been seasonally adjusted, was 5.3%, up from 3.9% in December, according to the state Department of Economic Opportunity. The rate was 4.3% in January 2020.

In January, the December unemployment rate for Marion, when it was initially released, was 5.6%. Later, it was adjusted to 3.9%, according to the local CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion press release on Monday. 

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Each March, officials with the Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics release a benchmark report that looks at employment numbers and revises historical data.

Adrienne Johnston, Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity’s director of the Division of Workforce Services, who was quoted in the CareerSource press release, said the revision is called an annual “benchmarking” process.

Johnston said that new statistical modeling showed “unprecedented economic changes that occurred this past year.”

Construction worker Alonzo Oliver works on installing a fire hydrant at the new Publix grocery store in the Belleview Regional plaza at the site of the old Kmart store. [Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner file]2021

The Ocala metropolitan statistical area, which includes all of Marion County, was among the revisions of nonfarm job counts dating back to 2004. Despite the changes, local officials say Ocala is still rebounding well despite the pandemic.

Dale French, CareerSource CLM’s executive vice president, said Marion is not far above the unemployment rate of a year ago. Marion is 1 percentage point higher than last year before COVID-19 arrived.

Year over year, the Marion County workforce increased by 685 people to 141,221 in January, the report states. The number of people employed in January decreased by 770 to 133,750.

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