By Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — Despite increased concerns about layoffs and a looming recession, Florida’s unemployment rate dipped in June.
The state Department of Economic Opportunity on Friday released a report that said the June rate was 2.8 percent, down from a revised 2.9 percent in May. The June number represented 303,000 Floridians unemployed in a workforce of 10.633 million.
The June rate was a decrease from 4.8 percent in June 2021, when 499,000 people were out of work.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office seized on the new rate, saying Florida’s labor force has grown by 2.8 percent over the past year compared to the national rate of 1.8 percent.
“Despite Biden administration policies that have produced record inflation, skyrocketing gas prices, and slowing national GDP (gross domestic product), Florida continues to outpace the nation with strong job growth and an increasing labor force,” DeSantis said in a news release.
The release also said the state’s labor force was up by 40,000 people in the past month, an increase of 0.4 percent, while the national labor force shrunk by 353,000 in the same time, a 0.2 percentage-point reduction.
The national unemployment rate has hovered around 3.6 percent since March, after it was 5.9 percent in June 2021.
Florida’s 10 major employment sectors are up in jobs from last year, but the June report showed a monthly decline of 2,400 construction jobs, 2,200 government jobs and 600 information-technology jobs.
But state economists pointed to positives.
Jobs in the leisure and hospitality fields, which still have ground to recover after massive losses early in the COVID-19 pandemic, had the largest gain in June at 12,100 new jobs, followed by education and health services which grew by 7,800 positions.
The state’s labor force was up 339,000 people from pre-pandemic levels, but has seen increases in people quitting jobs for 15 consecutive months.
Florida was one of 10 states to record unemployment rate declines in June and one of 20 with rates below the national mark, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.