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Unemployment drops again

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STAFF REPORT

The number of people without a job took a drop in Levy County in October to 12.5 percent, down from 13.1 percent in September – making it the second month in a row that unemployment dropped in Levy County. 

But it is 0.1 percent above the unemployment rate in October 2009 when it stood at 12.4 At that time the county had 16,652 people available for work and 2,059 were without jobs.

Last month, the county had 16,540 people in the workforce and 2,063 were not employed.

So the question is why?

The Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation reported that the Citrus, Levy and Marion counties region – one with stubbornly high unemployment – had a 13.5 percent regional unemployment rate, down 0.5 percent since September and 0.1 percentage point over the year,

Rusty Skinner, chief executive officer for Workforce Connection, said that the monthly drop is “difficult to see as a positive” because the region’s labor force and the number of those with jobs also declined.

 “We have fewer people looking for work and fewer people employed. That suggests that the reduction in the unemployment rate is because discouraged workers have opted out,” Skinner said. “That is not a long term healthy sign.”

Out of a regional labor force of 205,589, there were 27,727 unemployed residents. The labor force has shrunk by 2,525 in the three-county area.

Skinner noted that as the holidays approach, extended unemployment benefits will end because Congress is not extending them. In the three-county region, 800 are expected to lose their benefits the week of Dec. 4. 

 “We will likely have a situation of frustrated job seekers as they leave extended benefits with no other option than welfare and food stamps,” he said. “We anticipate an increase in the number of customers coming to us over the holidays.”

Florida’s unemployment rate for October held at 11.6 percent – higher than the 9 percent national average– and which represents nearly 1.1 million jobless out of a labor force of 9,233,000. 

Marion Countyís unemployment rate for October was 13.8 percent, a drop of 0.5 percent from September.

Citrus County had 13 percent jobless, down from 13.7 percent the previous month. 

Levy County posted 12.5 percent rate, down 0.6 percent from September and 0.1 percent higher than in October 2009.

Marion Countyís labor force shrunk from 134,468 in September to 132,621 in October, Citrus County dropped from 57,029 to 56,428 and Levy County dipped from 16,617 to 16,540.

The number of jobless in Marion County dropped from 19,264 in September to 18,312 in October. In Citrus County those unemployed decreased from 7,791 to 7,352 and in Levy County those without jobs declined from 2,179 to 2,063. 

At the same time, the number of those with jobs also dropped in Marion County by 895 to 114,309 and by 162 to 49,076 in Citrus County. Levy County posted gains for the second consecutive month, up 39 jobs for 14,477 employed in October.

Skinner said Workforce Connection continues to work with economic development partners throughout the three-county region to bring new employers to the area as well as provide services and training incentives to help small businesses.