The unemployment rate in Polk County was 2.9% in April, which is higher than the state unemployment rate but down 2.8% from the unemployment level in April of last year, according to a report Friday from CareerSource Polk and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
The state unemployment rate for April was 2.4%. The April unemployment rate in Polk County was 2.8% lower than the region’s year ago rate of 5.7%, the DEO reported . The labor force was 335,608, up 9,883 over the year. There were 9,709 unemployed residents in the region.
The DEO numbers released Friday were not seasonally adjusted.
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In April nonagricultural employment in the Lakeland-Winter Haven metropolitan area was 264,200, an increase of 11,600 jobs over the year, the DEO reported.
Within the job categories, education and health services rose by 5.7% – the second fastest annual job growth in Florida for those categories – and government rose 0.7%, giving those industries the distinction of growing as fast or faster in the Polk County than statewide over the year.
The industries gaining in jobs over the year were trade, transportation, and utilities, (+4,100); leisure and hospitality (+3,300); professional and business services (+2,300); education and health services (+2,000 jobs); other services (+400); government (+200); information (+100); and financial activities (+100).
Manufacturing jobs were unchanged over the year. The mining, logging and construction lost 900 jobs over the year.
The logistics and distribution industry in Polk County is driving economic growth because the county is between two metro areas, said Jerry D. Parrish an economist with the Florida State University, Center for Economic Forecasting and Analytics. That also contributes to job shed, driving up to an hour or more to work in another county than the one in which they live.
“The more jobs you create there in Polk County the more people will stay and not drive to Orlando or Tampa,” said Parrish.
Gary Ralston, a managing partner at the Lakeland-based real estate firm SVN Saunders Ralston Dantzler, said job shed is the region’s biggest economic challenge during a recent Lakeland Vision presentation.
“A detailed examination of commuting patterns for Polk County shows that the county has a net outflow of -38,992 workers,” Ralston said. “With 49.1% of workers who reside in Polk County employed outside the county, Polk County was ranked 21st of 67 for the highest outflow rankings among Florida counties.”
Of the 130,766 Polk County workers employed outside the county, the top destination counties are Orange (38,919 workers), Hillsborough (26,417 workers), and Osceola (9,929 workers), he said. Of the 91,774 Polk County workers living outside the county, the top origin counties are: Hillsborough (20,498 workers), Orange (8,472 workers), and Osceola (6,279 workers).
Also released on Friday was Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.0% for April, which was down 0.2% from March, and down 2.1% from a year ago, the DEO reported . There were 321,000 jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 10,543,000.
The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.6% percent in April. Florida’s seasonally adjusted total nonagricultural employment was 9,292,600 in April, an increase of 58,600 jobs within a month.
The state gained 517,100 jobs over the year, an increase of 5.9%, the DEO reported . Nationally, the number of jobs rose 4.6 percent over the year.
“Florida’s total nonagricultural and private sector employment surpassed the February 2020 (pre-pandemic) level in October 2021 and labor force surpassed the February 2020 level in June 2021,” according to the DEO.
Nationwide, the unemployment rates were lower in April in 13 states and the District of Columbia and stable in 37 states, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.
All 50 states and the District had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier. The national unemployment rate, 3.6 percent, was unchanged over the month but was 2.4 percentage points lower than in April 2021.
Non-farm payroll employment increased in 11 states and was essentially unchanged
in 39 states and the District of Columbia in April 2022.
Paul Nutcher covers business and industry for The Ledger. He can be reached at [email protected]
This article originally appeared on The Ledger: Polk County jobs report reflects jobs creation and recent layoffs