County’s unemployment rate holds, work force still needs boost

Preliminary employment numbers released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) show the unemployment rate to be down slightly in the five-county region served by CareerSource Chipola (CSC), with Washington CountyÂ’s rate unchanged from last month.

Washington County had an unemployment rate of 5 percent in both May and April, making the county tied with the regionÂ’s average, as well as tied with Calhoun County for the highest rate in the CSC region. Liberty County had the regionÂ’s lowest unemployment rate for May at 4.1 percent.

Overall, the region had an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent in May 2021. This represents a decrease of 0.2 percent since April and is more than 3 percent lower than May 2020. In addition to the decreased unemployment rate, the CSC region has also seen an increase in the labor force. CSC officials say this is an encouraging sign that the area continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our five counties have experienced a slight increase in both the total labor force and the available labor force,” said CSC Executive Director Richard Williams. “These gains, however, have not eliminated the current shortage of job seekers. We also realize that our employers are still hurting and are having issues filling available positions.” 

Williams went on to say that the workforce development organization is working closely with local employers and job seekers to match the two and fill positions as quickly as possible, reporting that the increased labor pool is promising – and a trend CSC hopes will continue as recovery progresses. 

“Thanks to the leadership of Governor DeSantis, Florida has been experiencing a significant recovery from the downturn caused by the pandemic,” said Williams. “In our region, we have had almost 1,200 fewer unemployed people in our region than a year ago and our labor force has increased by more than three thousand over the same timeframe. We continue to see growth and we look forward to this continuing in the future.”

Employers struggling to hire are encouraged to reach out to CareerSource Chipola for specialized assistance. Individuals and employers can contact CareerSource Chipola for assistance by calling 850-633-4419.