Gulf County’s unemployment rate took a little more than a half of 1 percentage point jump in June, as 35 people were added to the jobless rolls.
According to data released two weeks ago by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the labor force grew by 87 workers, to a total of 5,513, and the unemployment rate rose to 2.5 percent, as 140 people were without jobs.
One year ago, in June 2021, Gulf County had a much higher jobless rate of 3.9 percent as 209 people without jobs within a smaller workforce of 5,396 people.
Jim McKnight, director of the Gulf County Economic Development Coalition, said the overall picture, particularly with record-setting low unemployment in May, remains bright. The county’s jobless rate is tied with Nassau, Okaloosa, Wakulla and Walton for fourth best in the state, just behind St. Johns County at 2.3, Miami-Dade at 2.2, and Monroe County, best in the state, at 1.9 percent.
McKnight said he believes the closure June 7 of the WestRock Panama City Paper Mill may have contributed to Gulf County workers joining the jobless rolls.
“The paper mill closed in Panama City and I feel sure we had a few folks driving over there and they may be temporarily on unemployment,” he said.
He noted that as the labor force grew by 87 workers, the county added 52 jobs, while losing 35, still a net gain.
“This combination with an expanding labor force has to be attributable to a few folks in Panama City,” McKnight said. “There may be a lag; it’s just a matter of time before they find jobs.”
The unemployment rate in Gulf County last month was better than both Bay County, at 2.7 percent and Franklin County, at 2.6 percent.
Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 2.8 percent in June 2022, down 0.1 percentage point from the revised May rate, and down 2.0 percentage points from a year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in June.
There were 303,000 jobless Floridians out of a labor force of more than 10.6 million.
Florida’s seasonally adjusted total nonagricultural employment was 8.34 million in June, an increase of 30,600 jobs (+0.3 percent) over the month.
The state gained 453,600 jobs over the year, an increase of 5.1 percent. Nationally, the number of jobs rose 4.3 percent over the year.
Florida’s total nonagricultural and private sector employment surpassed the February 2020 (pre-pandemic) level in October 2021 and the labor force surpassed the February 2020 level in June 2021.
Florida lost more than 1.29 million jobs from February to April 2020 and has since gained back all lost jobs, tallying 1.5 million. All 10 major industries experienced positive over-the-year job growth in June.
The industries gaining jobs over the year included leisure and hospitality (+109,900 jobs, +9.8 percent); trade, transportation, and utilities (+104,400 jobs, +5.7 percent); professional and business services (+93,100 jobs, +6.4 percent); financial activities (+35,100 jobs, +5.7 percent); education and health services (+29,800 jobs, +2.2 percent); manufacturing (+27,900 jobs, +7.2 percent); other services (+27,500 jobs, +8.3 percent); construction (+14,600 jobs, +2.5 percent); information (+9,700 jobs, +7.0 percent); and total government (+1,500 jobs, +0.1 percent).