Florida’s unemployment rate fell to 10.6 percent in May, according to a survey released today by the state Agency for Workforce Innovation, the lowest jobless rate in nearly two years.

The labor force continued to grow, as did the total number of jobs, and the total number of people out of work continued to shrink. Florida’s jobs picture is still worse than at the national level, but the numbers appear to be improving at a faster rate.

Some parts of the state are struggling. The Space Coast again lost more jobs than any other region, due in part to the winding down of the shuttle program, and Flagler County continues to suffer long-term job losses, especially in construction.

The biggest regional gains were in the Orlando area, which is enjoying a rebound in tourism. Tourism and hospitality is the fastest-growing area of the state’s economy in terms of employment, adding an estimated 45,100 jobs over the year, while government at all levels is the area shedding the most jobs, losing 41,500 over the year, a product of the loss of federal census jobs and budget-driven layoffs at the state and local level.

The full text of AWI’s jobs release is below:

TALLAHASSEE – Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in May 2011 is 10.6 percent, the lowest since August 2009 when it was also 10.6 percent. This represents 980,000 jobless out of a labor force of 9,249,000. The state’s unemployment rate is down 0.2 percentage point from the April 2011 rate of 10.8 percent and is 0.7 percentage point lower than the May 2010 rate of 11.3 percent.

Florida’s total nonagricultural employment in May 2011 is 7,238,300, an increase of 28,000 jobs (+0.4 percent) from April 2011. The number of jobs in the state is up 24,900 over the year, an increase of 0.3 percent from May 2010.

“Today’s announcement that unemployment continues to drop and businesses continue to add thousands of jobs shows that Florida’s economy is moving in the right direction,” said Agency for Workforce Innovation Director Cynthia R. Lorenzo. “Our unemployment rate is now the lowest it has been in 21 months, and we can expect our state’s heightened focus on economic recovery to spur additional job growth in the months ahead.”

Online Ads Increase

Florida job postings compiled by the Help Wanted OnLine data series from The Conference Board increased in May 2011, after a slight decline in April. Job postings in Florida totaled 246,917 (seasonally adjusted) openings in May 2011, up by 7,002 openings (+2.9 percent) from the 239,915 postings in April 2011. Florida had an over-the-year increase of 42,319 job postings compared to May 2010.

Since the official end of the recession in June 2009, online job demand in Florida has increased by 88,584 jobs. Major occupational groups with the most online ads in May were healthcare practitioners and technical occupations, sales and related occupations, office and administrative support occupations and management occupations. Online job demand was strongest in the large metro areas, led by Miami-Dade, Orange, Hillsborough, Broward, and Duval counties.

Department of Economic Opportunity

On Tuesday, Governor Rick Scott signed into law Senate Bill 2156, creating a more unified approach and rapid response to job creation by consolidating the state’s economic development functions into the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The new law enhances the state’s ability to quickly react to business development opportunities and speed up job creation. For more information, please visit this link.

Florida’s Nonagricultural Employment by Industry (Seasonally Adjusted)

The number of jobs in Florida is 7,238,300 in May 2011, up 24,900 jobs compared to a year ago. May is the eighth consecutive month with positive annual job growth since the state started losing jobs in July 2007. The industry gaining the most jobs is leisure and hospitality (+45,100 jobs, +4.9 percent). Other industries gaining jobs include private education and health services (+24,500 jobs, +2.3 percent); trade, transportation, and utilities (+10,500 jobs, +0.7 percent); professional and business services (+6,600 jobs, +0.6 percent); and other services (+800 jobs, +0.3 percent). These industry job gains are partially due to increases in food services and drinking places; ambulatory health care services; motor vehicle and parts dealers; employment services; and repair and maintenance. Industries losing jobs over the year include: total government (-41,500 jobs, -3.6 percent); construction (-14,300 jobs, -4.1 percent); information (-4,700 jobs, -3.5 percent); financial activities (-1,300 jobs, -0.3 percent); and manufacturing (-900 jobs, -0.3 percent). These industry job losses are partially due to weakness in federal government which employed temporary census workers last year; construction of buildings; telecommunications; insurance carriers and related activities; and miscellaneous durable goods manufacturing.

Local Area Unemployment Statistics (Not Seasonally Adjusted)

In May 2011, Monroe County has the state’s lowest unemployment rate (6.3 percent), followed by Liberty County (6.5 percent); Walton County (6.6 percent); Okaloosa County (6.9 percent); and Lafayette County (7.1 percent). Most of the counties with the lowest unemployment rates are those with relatively high proportions of government employment. Flagler County has the highest unemployment rate (13.8 percent) in Florida in May 2011, followed by Miami-Dade (13.7 percent); Hendry County (13.3 percent); Hernando County (12.9 percent); and Indian River and St. Lucie counties (both 12.5 percent). Flagler County, as well as most of the other areas with the highest unemployment rates, continues to suffer long-term job losses, mainly in construction. There are 32 Florida counties with double-digit unemployment rates in May.

Area Nonagricultural Employment (Not Seasonally Adjusted)

Twelve metro areas of the 22 in the state have over-the-year job gains in May 2011. The areas with the largest gains are Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford (+6,600 jobs, +0.7 percent), Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (+4,700 jobs, +0.4 percent), and Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall (+3,700 jobs, +0.4 percent). Of the metro areas with job declines, the largest losses are in Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville (-6,800 jobs, -3.4 percent); Cape Coral-Ft. Myers (-3,600 jobs, -1.8 percent); and North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota (-2,800 jobs, -1.1 percent).

Note: These unemployment and job growth rates are estimates, which are primarily based on surveys created and mandated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in cooperation with the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation.

The unemployment rate is derived from Florida household surveys conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau under contract with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The job growth rate is derived from Florida employer surveys conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Both estimates are revised on a monthly basis. In addition, these estimates are benchmarked (revised) annually based on actual counts from Florida’s Unemployment Compensation tax records and other data.

New procedures recently mandated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics may result in more variable month-to-month changes. For further information, go to: http://www.bls.gov/sae/cesprocs.htm

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