Florida unemployment rate continue to rise

03/06/09 Mitch E. Perry
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The number of unemployed people rose in the Tampa bay area to nearly 10 percent in January. Officially, the number was 9.7 percent, while in Florida, unemployment is now at 8.6 percent. That’s 3½ percent higher than a year ago.

Nationally, the unemployment rate is now at 8.1 percent.

Rebecca Rust is an economist with the state agency for Workforce Innovation. She says Florida has nearly 356,000 jobs, a negative job growth rate at 4 ½ percent, larger than the national 2 ½ percent negative rate.

There were 91,000 more Floridians who were jobless in January, from a month before. The current recession, as defined by the government, is in its 15th month, one month short of the 1973-75 recession, the worst since the Great Depression. Of course, as Rust confirmed today, there is no indication that the current downturn is about to change anytime soon.

Rust said a new development in the unemployment numbers is in the food and beverage and hospitality sectors.

Locally, Hillsborough County’s unemployment rate is now at 9.1 percent – that’s 4 percent higher than January of 2008. Pinellas County is at 9½ percent, up from 5 percent from a year ago. Rust says that because Florida was such a high growth state, the downfall is being felt so strongly here.

The Labor Department reported the national unemployment rate at 8.1 perent today. But New York Times Economists Columnist David Leonhardt reported that combined with the underemployed rate, it is now 14.8 percent nationwide – that’s still not as bad as December of 1982 when that statistic was measured at 16.3 percent.

Meanwhile, in Columbus, Ohio today, President Barack Obama attended a graduation ceremonies for 25 police recruits- whose jobs were saved by the stimulus package passed in Congress last month. Obama said he rejects a future of continuing job losses.

And Obama says today's unemployment numbers push the the total of jobs lost to over 4 million.

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