Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Jobless Rate's Dip Surprises

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Jobless Rate's Dip Surprises

Article excerpt

REGION: Typically the figure rises during slow summer months -- typically

The local unemployment rate dipped to 9.1 percent in August, a surprising drop because the jobless rate almost always rises during the slow summer season.

Both statewide and in Southwest Florida, the number of people with jobs fell -- by 9,000 for the state and by 2,300 for Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties -- but all of the losses, and more, were because of the seasonal slowdown in agriculture.

Removing agriculture, the local economy added 2,000 positions during August and the state added 23,200, still leaving it with a flat 8.8 percent jobless rate.

"It was a pleasant surprise," University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith said of the report's non-farm component. "Specifically, the number of payroll jobs that were added last month. To see 23,200 jobs added in Florida when the national number was 96,000 was impressive."

The national unemployment rate fell from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent in August.

Snaith noted that 5,300 jobs were added statewide in a suddenly lively construction sector.

"Given the fact that that sector's been flatlining for years, to see a little pulse was another surprising and pleasant development," he said.

The question now is whether August's growth in payroll jobs is sustainable, Snaith said.

"You don't want to get too jubilant over one month's report," he said.

In the Sarasota-Manatee economy, returning teachers were the biggest source of new jobs, but other sectors also added positions, said Sally Hill, a spokeswoman for the Suncoast Workforce Board which runs three employment centers in the region.

Health and private education added 400 positions; construction added 200; and manufacturing and retailing added 100 each. That was in addition to the 2,400-job increase in government.

The only two sectors that were down were tourism and professional/ business services, both of which lost 100. …

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