The latest figures for the Florida and Orlando job market show that the there's still a modest recovery taking place. The state added 5300 jobs for the month and 53,800 over the last year. Orlando's numbers, which are not seasonally adjusted, show a loss of 400 jobs in May but a gain of 4400 in the last 12 months. This indicates a 0.7% rate of growth in employment for Florida and 0.4% for Orlando, both lagging the nation, which had a growth rate of 1.2%. Despite that, the state and local unemployment rates have declined much more quickly than that of the nation. How did that happen? Though many have heard about the declining labor force participation rate nationally, it has fallen even more locally. In 2007, prior to the recession, the labor force participation rate in Florida was about 64%. As of May 2012, it has fallen to 60.1%. This compares to a decline from 66% to 63.8% nationally. Thus, Florida is experiencing a modest recovery in terms of employment, but the unemployment rate has declined by 2 full percentage points in the last year due in part to fewer people being in the job market.
Which industries are doing well? Construction and manufacturing both reported significant gains in employment statewide in May, along with wholesale trade and leisure/hospitality. As expected, state government showed the largest loss in jobs, but private education also had a significant loss (remember, the data are seasonally adjusted). What about Central Florida? The big winner locally was construction, which added 1600 jobs (nearly a 4% gain for the month). As a result, for the first time since 2006, construction has not lost jobs over the previous 12 months.
What's the main message of this report? Some of the same trends nationally are being seen locally. Jobs are being added, but at a very modest pace (more slowly than the rest of the country). The decline in the unemployment rate locally is being impacted by a significant decline in the labor force participation rate, which is falling more quickly than elsewhere. It's still a recovery, but a modest one at best.