Unemployment in Palm Beach County hits negative milestone

By Palm Beach Business.com

DELRAY BEACH — Unemployment in Palm Beach County hit 10.2 percent in May, the highest it’s been since the early 1990s.

Unemployment statewide also hit 10.2 percent last month, the highest, it’s been since the mid-1970s. In fact, the last time the jobless rate was higher was October 1975, during the worst recession since the end of World War II.

Those gloomy numbers are courtesy of Florida’s Agency for Workforce Innovation, which released its May jobs report Friday. There was little, if any, reason for optimism in the report itself.

Palm Beach County’s May rate of 10.2 percent is up from 9.9 percent in April and 5.8 percent from May 2008. The rate translates to 64,135 county residents out of work, up 2,658 from the April report. County numbers are not adjusted for seasonal factors that influence the job market.

The state rate of 10.2 percent is up from 9.7 percent in April and 5.8 percent a year ago. Statewide, 943,000 Floridians are unemployed. The number of jobs statewide fell by 417,000 during the 12 months through May, a 5.3 percent rate of decline, compared to a national rate of 3.9 percent.

Those numbers do not include those that are under employed, and those who are unemployed but aren’t actively seeking work because of the lack of jobs.

The national jobless rate for May is at 9.4 percent.

State economists have projected that unemployment in Florida would top out at 10.2 percent early next year. Hitting it now is not a good sign.

“It’s likely to be higher than what the current forecast is showing,” said Rebecca Rust, an economist with AWI.

Only one industry sector, private education and health care, showed an increase in jobs during the 12 months through May, and it was up 5,000. That gain came entirely from care, and even there, some counties showed job losses in that sector, as the recession catches up with health care spending.

Professional and business services was the hardest hit sector, losing 92,600 jobs over the last 12 months. Construction was next, at 90,800, followed by transportation and utilities, down 82,200 and leisure and hospitality, down 55,100 jobs.

Also from Friday’s report: Broward County’s jobless rate rose to 8.8 percent in May, up from 8.5 percent in April and 4.8 percent in May 2008.

Miami-Dade’s rate hit 9.6 percent in May, up from 8.1 percent in April and 5.3 percent a year earlier.

palm beach business.com
JUNE 21, 2009 click to go home
click to go back to the top
Delray's Online Business and Community Newspaper