Florida unemployment rate falls in May

Florida's unemployment dropped slightly in May, bucking the direction of the national unemployment rate.

Falling from 8.7 to 8.6 percent, the Department of Economic Opportunity reported this morning, Florida's unemployment rate declined due to an addition of jobs rather than a further decrease in the labor force. Job creation continued to be muted, with 5,300 added in May and only 25,200 added this year, according to Labor Department surveys of employer payrolls.

The national unemployment rate increased last month by 0.1 percent to 8.2 percent after several months of declining rates.

Palm Beach County's unemployment rate rose 0.1 percent to 8.6 percent; Martin County also rose 0.1 percent to 8.2 percent. St. Lucie County lost ground too, rising 0.2 percent to 10.9, keeping it ranked at third worst in the state.

Those figures cannot be directly related, as the county figures are not adjusted for seasonal fluctuations. Florida's unemployment rate also went up 0.2 percent without seasonal adjustments being made to the figures.

This time last year, unemployment was 10.4 percent in Palm Beach County.

"While May ends a decline of nine consecutive months in Palm Beach County's unemployment rate, the county gained 1,800 jobs compared to last year, and the gap between the county's unemployment rate compared to the state and the nation has continued to narrow," Workforce Alliance President and CEO Steve Craig said in a news release today. "This suggests that the local economic recovery is continuing, but still remains well below where we were when the recession began."

In Florida, some of the industries that have had stronger numbers backtracked in May. Education and health services saw a drop of 1,800, although job creation for 2012 is up 7,300. State and federal government continues to drag on the employment situation, as those two sectors have lost 5,700 jobs this year. Local government, however, has added 5,100 jobs this year.

From a set of figures not adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, Palm Beach County lost 1,000 jobs overall last month with a big hit in leisure and hospitality, but it's not unusual for businesses to cut staff after the winter residents and tourists leave for the summer.

Compared to last year, an additional 1,800 people had jobs in the county, according to Department of Economic Opportunity reports. But leisure and hospitality had 5,700 fewer than a year ago.

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