Florida's jobless rate remained the same in March
Florida’s unemployment rate remained at 2.6 percent in March, as service-related jobs continued to lead in new hiring and construction jobs fell for a third consecutive month.
The state Department of Economic Opportunity on Friday reported an estimated 283,000 Floridians were out of work in mid-March, 1,000 fewer than in February and 49,000 less than in March 2022.
Meanwhile, the workforce hit 10.92 million people, up 43,000 from mid-February and 250,000 more than in March 2022.
Jimmy Heckman, the department’s chief of workforce statistics and economic research, said in a conference call with reporters that increases in the state’s labor force have outpaced the national rate since June 2021.
The growth is built on the leisure and hospitality sectors, which added 104,100 positions from March 2022 to March 2023, followed by 91,600 new jobs in the education and health services sectors.
Meanwhile, jobs involving trade, transportation, and utilities grew by 69,500 year over year. In the same period, the state added 15,100 jobs in construction and 12,900 in manufacturing.
But from February to March, the construction sector lost 2,300 positions, the third consecutive month of losses.
Heckman said the construction industry is sensitive to recent interest-rate increases, which have “put a lot of downward pressure on the demand for new construction, for new buildings, especially in residential construction.”
The Department of Economic Opportunity said private-sector employment increased in March by 0.1 percent, or 12,100 jobs.
It also indicated a possible tightening of the labor market, pointing to more than 400,000 jobs currently posted online in Florida. In March, the state recorded about 620,000 job openings.
Florida was among 32 states where the unemployment rate remained steady from February to March, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Another 18 states saw rates go down. Among large states, unemployment rates stood at 4.4 percent in California and Illinois, 4.1 percent in New York and 4 percent in Texas.
The Department of Labor said this month that the national unemployment rate decreased from 3.6 percent in February to 3.5 percent in March.
Among Florida’s metropolitan-statistical areas, the lowest rate in March was 2.2 percent in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach region.
The Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent and Jacksonville statistical areas were each at 2.6 percent.
The Villages, Homosassa Springs and Sebring areas had the highest rates, at 3.8 percent.
The statewide unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted, while the regional rates are not adjusted.