Florida Sees First Unemployment Rate Increase of the Year in July
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Breaking a streak of consistent numbers, Florida experienced an uptick in the unemployment rate for the first time this year in the month of July.
According to the state Department of Commerce, the unemployment rate in July rose to 2.7%, up from the stagnant 2.6% rate that had remained unchanged since January. The department estimated that around 295,000 Floridians were without work in mid-July, an increase of 5,000 from the previous month.
Furthermore, the labor force in the state grew by a significant 42,000, reaching a total of 11.08 million individuals in July.
Lindsay Volpe, the deputy secretary of the department’s Division of Workforce Services, commented on the situation, stating that the rise in both employment and unemployment is a positive sign for a flourishing labor market that continues to attract new workers.
“Florida’s unemployment rate remains remarkably low when compared to historical levels, and it is not far from the state’s all-time low rate of 2.4%,” Volpe said during a conference call with reporters. “Being one of the largest states in the nation and having the lowest unemployment rate among the largest states, we don’t anticipate a significant change in our unemployment rate.”
During the conference call, officials from the department chose not to address the potential impacts of a new immigration law implemented in the state on July 1, or the increase in unemployment rates in rural counties during the same month.
The new law, known as SB 1718, enforces changes such as mandating businesses with more than 25 employees to use the federal E-Verify system and verify the immigration status of their workers.
Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson, a Republican who previously defended the law as a measure to reduce the number of undocumented workers and illegal drugs entering Florida via the Mexican border, recently admitted that the law may have unintended consequences on the construction and leisure and hospitality industries.
Migrant workers and advocates have filed a federal lawsuit against part of the law, as they find it too vague and believe that it makes it a felony to transport individuals who unlawfully entered the country into the state.
When addressing the employment figures for July, Governor Ron DeSantis’ office attributed the growth in the private sector to economic policies implemented under his leadership, which have propelled Florida’s growth rate ahead of the national pace.
As a comparison, the national unemployment rate stood at 3.5% in July.
The only sector in Florida that experienced a decline in July was leisure and hospitality jobs, primarily associated with food service and lodging.
Visit Florida, the state’s tourism-marketing agency, recently reported a slight decrease in tourism numbers during the second quarter of this year compared to the same period last year. They attributed this decline in part to heightened competition from other states and countries that had longer shutdowns than Florida during the pandemic.
In fact, the state’s unemployment rate also stood at 2.7% in July 2022.
Among different regions in the state, the Southeast Florida region, spanning from Miami to West Palm Beach, boasted the lowest unemployment rate at 2.6% last month. Within that region, the Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall area reported a particularly low rate of 1.9%.
It’s important to note that the statewide unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted, whereas regional rates are not.
Other regions in the state reported varying unemployment rates in July. The Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin area was at 2.7%, while the Panama City region registered a rate of 2.8%.
The Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater regions both recorded rates of 3.1%. Similarly, the Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent and Jacksonville areas had identical rates of 3.2%.
Additionally, metropolitan areas in Southwest Florida, spanning from Bradenton to Naples, also reported a 3.2% unemployment rate.
The areas with the highest unemployment rates in July were the Sebring area at 4.7%, the Homosassa Springs area at 4.6%, and The Villages area at 4.3%.
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