OCALA METRO POSTS THIRD FASTEST JOB GROWTH RATE IN FLORIDA

OCALA, Fla. (April 21, 2017) – If not yet in full bloom, the economy is certainly growing stronger in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region.

According to today’s employment summary by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), the unemployment rate in March for the CareerSource CLM region was 5.2 percent, down 0.7 percentage point since February and 0.6 percentage point lower than the area’s rate a year ago of 5.8 percent.

Out of an expanded labor force of 201,238, there were 10,556 unemployed, a drop of 1,281 over the month and 915 less than a year ago. Significantly, there were 190,682 people with jobs throughout the three counties, an increase of 1,893 over the month and 5,882 more than in March 2016.

Additionally, the DEO reports that the Ocala metropolitan statistical area (MSA) posted 103,700 nonfarm jobs in March, an increase of 4,000 new jobs for a 4.0 percent growth rate over the year. That’s the third fastest rate among all Florida’s metro areas.

For the third consecutive month, the Ocala MSA continued to hold the fastest annual job growth rate compared to all metros in Florida in professional and business services, at 11.0 percent. The Ocala MSA had the third fastest job growth rate in mining, logging and construction at 10.4 percent.

Kathleen Woodring, CareerSource CLM’s executive vice president, said that the region is gaining momentum when it comes to positive economic indicators.

“This is exactly what we like to see: expansion of the labor force fueled by strong job growth,” she said.

Levy County continued to post the lowest jobless rate in the region dropping from 5.0 to 4.5 percent; followed by Marion County at 5.1 percent, down from 5.9 percent; and Citrus County at 5.9 percent, dropping from 6.8 percent. Florida’s not seasonally adjusted rate was 4.3 percent, down over the month from 4.7 percent; and the nation’s rate was 4.6 percent, down from 4.9 percent.

Woodring said the March report shows that career seekers continue to have optimism as a result of growing job opportunities. She noted that in March, 50 employers recruited candidates at career fairs in Ocala and Lecanto, and that hiring events – such as the four next week for Rural King – take place on a regular basis.

“How do we know the economy is improving? By seeing that those who enter the labor force are finding employment,” she said.

Citrus County’s labor force increased by 277 to 48,058, the number of employed rose by 682 to 45,230, and the number of those without jobs fell by 405 to 2,848 over the month. The number of unemployed was down 338 from March 2016 when the rate was 6.6 percent.

Levy County’s labor force expanded by 22 to 16,937, the number of employed increased by 110 to 16,176 and the number of unemployed dropped by 88 to 761. That’s 308 more employed and 84 fewer unemployed compared to a year ago when the jobless rate was 5.1 percent.

Marion County’s labor force grew by 313 to 136,243, the number of employed increased by 1,101 to 129,296 and the number of jobless decreased by 788 to 6,947. That is 5,520 more with jobs over the year and 493 fewer unemployed than in March 2016 when the jobless rate was 5.7 percent.

Among the counties, Citrus County continued to hold the third highest rate behind Sumter County at 6.1 percent and Hendry County at 6.4 percent; Marion County dropped from 10th to 11th; and Levy County was 26th.

The Villages MSA continued to post the highest rate among the states metros at 6.1 percent, Homosassa Springs (Citrus County) was second and Ocala fell from fourth to fifth.

Much of the region’s strong job gains continue to be fueled by jobs in the Ocala/Marion County metro area, which posted 103,700 nonfarm jobs in March, adding 4,000 new jobs over the year for a job growth rate of 4.0 percent. That outpaced the statewide growth rate of 3.0 percent and was the third fastest job growth rate among all of the state’s metro areas.

Industries gaining jobs over the year were trade, transportation and utilities (+1,000 jobs); professional and business services (+1,000); mining, logging and construction (+700); education and health services (+700); manufacturing (+300); leisure and hospitality (+100); other services (+100); and government (+100).

Professional and business services (+11.0 percent); mining, logging and construction (+10.4 percent); trade, transportation and utilities (+4.4 percent); and education and health services (+3.9 percent); and manufacturing (+3.8 percent) industries grew as fast or faster in the metro area than statewide over the year.

Information and financial activities were unchanged.

The Homosassa Springs MSA had 33,500 nonfarm jobs in March, an increase of 100 jobs over the month and a decrease of 200 jobs over the year.

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