TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Florida's unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a point in August to 6.3 percent. According to Jesse Panuccio with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, while that rate is showing a trend of holding steady, behind that trend there's some good news.
"The reasons why people are unemployed," says Panuccio, "if you look at what they're reporting, we've seen rather than people being terminated from jobs, forcibly out of jobs, now they're leaving jobs voluntarily to look for other work, or new entrants or re-entrants into the labor force."
The state's jobless rate has hovered between 6.2 and 6.3 percent since December of last year. One year ago, it stood at 7.1 percent. The latest unemployment report shows about 600,000 Floridians are out of work. But Gov. Rick Scott points to an overall increase in jobs over the past year. The report says Florida has added 211,000 jobs since August of last year. Between July and August this year, the labor force increased by about 23,000 jobs.
Panuccio says while it may look like the jobless rate has been stuck around 6.3 percent for nearly a year, there's an upside to those numbers.
"The rate is dependent on how many people are in the labor force," says Panuccio. "What we've seen over the year is 177,000 people return to the labor force. So when you have a large influx of people coming into the labor force, it can be hard to pull the rate down but that can be OK for those people who are getting jobs if you're holding steady. So I think over time, you have to look at other economic indicators: we see job growth continuing to be strong and outpace the nation, we see job demand at pre-recession and sometimes record levels this year. So as those jobs continue to be there, we think the rate will come down over time."