Palm Beach County's jobless rate continues to climb

By David Sedore, Palm Beach

DELRAY BEACH — Palm Beach County’s jobless rate hit 11.7 percent in September, up from 11.4 percent in August, according to Florida’s Agency for Workforce Innovation.

The agency’s report, released Friday, shows the statewide rate climbing to 11.0 percent, the highest since October 1975. The report also shows the number of unemployed statewide topping 1 million for the first time ever on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Throw in workers who want jobs but have given up searching — not included in the official jobless tally — and workers who need full-time jobs but are forced to take part-time work out of economic necessity and the rate soars to more than 18 percent of Florida’s work force, or about 1.8 million people.

local and state jobless stats for september

The state’s economic estimating conference, a gathering of economists from both the Legislature and the governor’s office, in July predicted that the statewide jobless rate would top out at 11.0 percent. However, they also expected unemployment would peak some time during the second quarter of 2010.

The economic estimating conference is scheduled to convene on Nov. 3 to revise its projections. Rebecca Rust, the chief economist for AWI, said she expects statewide unemployment to peak between 11 and 12 percent.

There was bit of good news in the report: the rate at which the state is losing jobs has moderated since March, when it hit 5.4 percent. It now stands at 4.7 percent, Rust said.

“Even though we still have a declining rate, it is moderating,” Rust said. “We’re looking for any positive signs.”

Other positive indicators, according to Rust:

— The number of layoffs reported to the state through so-called “WARN” notices has declined from 4,000 in May to 285 in September. Many, but not all, employers making “mass” layoffs are required to file a WARN notice with the agency.

— Home sales continue to increase statewide, though there are still many foreclosures and short sales.

— The number of foreclosures statewide, while still high, declined by 12 percent in September.

“That is one of the indicators that must turn around before we’ll see any improvement in the job market,” Rust said.

Palm Beach County’s jobless rate of 11.7 percent translates to 74,415 people out of work. That compares with a rate of 11.4 percent and 71,941 out of work in August. A year ago, the rate was 7.6 percent.

In Broward County, the jobless rate hit 9.8 percent, up from 9.6 percent in August and 6.0 a year ago.

In Miami-Dade, the rate actually dropped to 11.3 percent from 11.8 in August. A year earlier, the jobless rate was sitting at 6.3 percent.

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