Despite adding 4,800 jobs in the past year, Polk’s unemployment rate rose slightly in July

Polk County’s unemployment rate inched up year over year, from 3.6% in July 2022 to 3.9% this year. But the county added 4,800 new jobs.

The unemployment rate in Polk County was 3.9% in July, 0.3 percentage points higher than the 3.6% rate a year ago, according to data released Friday by the Florida Commerce Department.The region’s July 2023 unemployment rate was 1.2 percentage points above the state rate of 2.7%.In Polk County, the labor force was 348,457, up 10,175 and an increase by 3% compared with July of last year. There were 13,645 unemployed residents in the region. Nonagricultural employment in the Lakeland-Winter Haven MSA was 266,000, an increase of 4,800 jobs or 1.8% over the year.The other data for July in the Lakeland-Winter Haven metropolitan area show the following:The education and health services sector rose 7.7% and leisure and hospitality gained by 6.8%. Polk led the state in both categories.The education and health services job category gained the most jobs in Polk County with 2,800 jobs; leisure and hospitality gained 1,800 jobs; trade, transportation, and utilities added 1,100 jobs; manufacturing gained 500 jobs; other services improved with 200 jobs, and financial activities were up 100 jobs.Two industries lost jobs over the year in Polk County. Professional and business services lost 1,200 jobs, and mining, logging and construction lost 500.The government and information industries were unchanged in July year to year.The strong labor market in the United States could help the economy avoid a recession, at least this year, said economist Sean Snaith, the director of UCF’s Institute for Economic Forecasting at the University of Central Florida, in his latest report.With a stronger-than-expected gross domestic product report last month and a resilient labor market,  “… what was once a near-certain downturn is now ‘definitely maybe,’” he said.“All indicators said the U.S. was headed into recession, but you’ve got a resistant labor market that doesn’t want to buckle under the weight of these higher interest rates — something that historically should have happened,” Snaith said.“Ultimately, it’s the labor market’s resiliency that is keeping any recession at arm’s length and stiff-arming it into the future.”Still, inflation has been persistent and consumer spending may trend lower because of the erosion of Americans’ real income, especially in the second half of 2023, the report said.In press release about state data released Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida’s private sector job growth rate expanded at a rate five times faster than the United States for July, which was the strongest month for job growth since September 2022.Florida’s private sector job growth rate increased by 0.5% adding 42,800 jobs in July compared with the national rate of 0.1% over the same period, the release said. Florida’s workforce grew by 2.6% with 280,000 jobs added since July 2022, and faster than the national July to July rate of 1.9%.Florida’s unemployment rate was 2.7%, which was the fourteenth consecutive month as the lowest among the 10 largest U.S. states.Florida added 42,800 private sector jobs in July, which was Florida’s 12th highest month of growth over the past 33 months.Florida’s labor force grew by 42,000 workers, which was the state’s 6th highest month of growth over the past 33 months.“For the last four years, Florida has led the nation with more than 2.5 million new business formations and over 1 million Floridians joining the workforce,” DeSantis said. He added state government policies that support business owners and job seekers as well as investments in workforce education and infrastructure have kept unemployment low.Florida’s private-sector employment grew by 3.3% or 277,000 jobs year over year in July, and the state’s labor force grew by 0.4% over the month in July, the release said.In July, employment listings showed more than 545,000 jobs posted online in Florida.According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate remained at 3.5% year over year in July but decreased from 3.6% in June.The number of unemployed people in the U.S. decreased by 116,000 to 5.841 million and employment levels rose by 268,000 to 161.262, the BLS said on Friday.Unemployment rates were lower in July in seven states, higher in three states, and stable in 40 states and the District of Columbia, the BLS said. Twenty-three states had jobless rate decreases from a year ago, but five states and the District had increases. Twenty-two states had little change.Nonfarm payroll employment increased in four states and was essentially unchanged in 46 states and the district in July 2023.Year over year, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 36 states and was essentially unchanged in 14 states and the district.This article originally appeared on The Ledger: Polk added 4,800 jobs in past year, but jobless rate rises slightly View comments

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