Florida's unemployment numbers fall slightly in November

State has gained back 91.2% of jobs lost since beginning of pandemic
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Posted at 12:41 PM, Dec 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-17 18:37:29-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Unemployment numbers continue to be strong in Florida, according to the latest figures released by the state Friday.

Numbers provided by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity show that the unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in November, down 0.1 percentage from October.

Florida's unemployment rate is slightly above the U.S. unemployment rate of 4.2 percent.

Hot Pie Pizza owner John Reis
Hot Pie Pizza Owner John Reis said he would like to hire 10 more employees at his two Palm Beach County locations.

There are currently about 483,000 jobless Floridians out of a work force of more than 10.6 million.

The state's current unemployment rate is down 0.9 percent from a year ago.

Below is a breakdown of current unemployment numbers for Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast:

  • Palm Beach: November 2021: 3.5%, down from 4% in October
  • Martin: November 2021 3.1%, down from 3.3% in October
  • St. Lucie: November 2021: 4.1%, down from 4.5% in October
  • Indian River: November 2021: 3.9%, down from 4.3% in October
  • Okeechobee: November 2021: 3.8%, down from 4.1% in October

For the fifth consecutive month, there are more job openings than unemployed people in Palm Beach County — 39,258 job openings as opposed to 26,537 unemployed in November.

"I don't think it's at all about being lazy," said Hot Pie Pizza Owner John Reis. "I think they have so many choices."

Reis said he would like to hire 10 people at his locations in downtown West Palm Beach and Royal Palm Beach.

For eight consecutive months, the leisure/hospitality industry sector has led the county in over-the-year job growth — adding 10,600 jobs for a 13.9 percent jump.

The unemployment rate in the CareerSource Research Coast region, which includes Indian River, Martin, and St. Lucie counties, was 3.8 percent in November 2021.

Tom Veenstra, CareerSource Palm Beach County, Dec. 17, 2021
Tom Veenstra with CareerSource Palm Beach County shares his thoughts about the current unemployment rate.

In the combined CareerSource Research Coast metro areas, the major industry that gained jobs over the year were professional and business services with more than 3,400 jobs, along with leisure and hospitality gaining about 3,000 jobs.

The majority of the nonagricultural employment in the Research Coast region was in the Port St. Lucie area, accounting for 160,900 jobs in November.

CareerSource of Palm Beach County says industries like construction and hospitality have added thousands of jobs – but there are also so many other openings it's leading to what is known as "job leavers."

"Job leavers [are] those who voluntarily choose to leave — double the percentage compared to last year. And where are they going?They're leaving for better jobs, higher-paying jobs, better working conditions or perhaps another field they haven't thought of before," said Tom Veenstra with CareerSource Palm Beach County.

The squeeze on workers has made people like Reis rethink his business model, such as limiting lunch hours and even changing service.

"We've become more execution, getting your product from A to B more than the service itself," Reis said. "Soon you'll have maybe one server for one a whole restaurant and have table runners, as we call it, to deliver the food, so the service does kind of erode. The attention erodes, but you still get your food."

Monroe County currently has the state's lowest unemployment rate at 2.2 percent with Putnam County having the highest rate at 5.4 percent in November.

Statistics provided by the state show that Florida lost more than 1.2 million jobs at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 but has since gained back 91.2 percent of those jobs lost.