Jobless rate falls in Palm Beach County but ticks up statewide

By David Sedore, Palm Beach

DELRAY BEACH — Surprise! Palm Beach County’s jobless rate fell in October but remained solidly in double digits.

Florida’s Agency for Workforce Innovation reported Friday that Palm Beach County’s rate fell to 11.4 percent last month from 11.7 percent in September. A year ago, the rate sat at 7.6 percent. The number of residents out of work dropped to 71,555 from 73,787 a month earlier.

Seasonal factors could account for the drop — county rates are not seasonally adjusted, and typically decline in the fall. Also notable: the number of Palm Beach residents counted as workers dropped by 922 to 553,996. The decline could be caused by workers who have moved out of the county, or who have quit searching for employment.

chart showing unemployment rates statewide and locally

The statewide rate changed little in October, rising to 11.2 percent from 11.1 percent in September. The number of unemployed rose by 9,000 to 1,027,000, according to the agency.

The jobless rate is expected to peak at 11.4 percent some time during the second quarter of 2010, according to the latest forecast from the state’s economic estimating conference, a group of economists from the governor’s office and the Legislature.  That’s below Florida’s all-time high of 11.9 percent set in May 1975, according to Rebecca Rust, chief economist for AWI.

Sectors of the economy with the biggest job losses: Transportation, trade and utilities, down 86,000 over the previous 12 months; professional and business services, down 75,1000; construction, down 74,100 jobs; manufacturing down 44,600 jobs from a year ago.

The only sector to gain jobs: Private education and health care, up 11,500 jobs. All of the gains were on the health care side of the sector, according to Rust.

Rust said the state is losing jobs at an annual rate of 4.4 percent, above the national rate of 4.0 percent. The good news in that number: the rate of loss was 5.4 percent in March.

“It’s one percentage point, but we’re looking for any glimmer of hope,” Rust said.

Elsewhere in South Florida: Broward County’s jobless rate fell to 9.7 percent from 9.8 in September, but up from the 6.1 percent reported a year ago.

Miami-Dade County’s jobless rate rose to 11.8 percent from 11.4 percent in September. A year ago the rate sat at 6.6 percent.

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