As Florida recovers with more jobs, unemployment still ticks up in May
Image via AP.

Labor market growth pushes unemployment up to 4.9% in May.

Because more people entered the labor force, Florida’s unemployment rate ticked up a notch in May.

Last month’s numbers also mark the 13th straight month of Florida job growth since the coronavirus crisis economic collapse in April 2020.

On Friday, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 4.9% in May, up from 4.8% in April. Still, compared with the 14.2% unemployment rate during the same period in 2020, things are looking pretty good.

Florida still has not yet recovered to the pre-pandemic economic prosperity of February 2020. However, the state has gained back more than half the almost 1.3 million jobs lost during the pandemic’s first couple of months, the department reported.

Florida added about 57,000 jobs in May, in seasonally adjusted numbers.

The problem is, Florida saw 72,000 more people in the labor market in May compared with April, in seasonally adjusted numbers. So the state’s unemployment rate crept up slightly.

For May, the trade, transportation and utility sectors led the job growth, providing 11,700 new jobs. Florida also gained another 9,200 jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector and 7,400 jobs in the professional and business services sector.

On the other hand, Florida saw net job losses for May in education, health services, and manufacturing.

The Orlando market led the state in job growth last month, adding about 21,000 new jobs as the region’s tourism industry takes off for a post-pandemic summer. The Orlando market had been the state’s hardest-hit; in May 2020, the unemployment rate was 22.6%. A year later, Orlando saw 5.4% unemployed.

Orlando added 111,000 new jobs in a year, with more than half in the leisure and hospitality industries.

Jacksonville boasted Florida’s lowest unemployment rate of any major metro area, at 4.2% in May. That’s down from 11% a year earlier. Jacksonville saw 10,000 new jobs added, with 49,000 new jobs created in the past year.

Last month, Miami held the worst unemployment rate in the state, despite adding 15,000 new jobs. But the unemployment rate was 6.7% in May, down from 10.3% a year earlier. Miami has added 87,000 new jobs in a year.

Among other Florida markets for May:

 — Fort Lauderdale logged an unemployment rate of 5.2%, down from 17.4% a year earlier. Fort Lauderdale added 15,000 new jobs, and 61,000 in the past year.

— Pensacola added just over 1,000 new jobs, bringing its unemployment rate to 4.3%. Pensacola’s job base grew by more than 1,000 last month and more than 9,000 over the past year.

— Tampa-St. Petersburg added almost 15,000 new jobs, logging an unemployment rate of 4.6%. Tampa added 100,000 jobs in a year since the unemployment rate was 13.4% at the same point in 2020.

— Southwest Florida’s unemployment rate was 4.6%, down from 13.9% a year earlier. The Fort Myers area shed about 1,000 jobs last month, yet had gained almost 17,000 in the past year.

— West Palm Beach’s unemployment rate was also 4.6%, down from 14.3% a year earlier. West Palm added 6,000 jobs and added about 51,000 new jobs over the past year.

Unemployment trends for Florida (blue) and the United States (green.) Image via Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


  • Tom

    June 19, 2021 at 6:06 am

    America’s Governor saved Florida from devastation and economic ruin keeping state open. Unemployment at country lows due to his leadership with residents future hopeful.
    Governor Ron opposed lockouts and supported people.

    • shelley cannon

      June 23, 2021 at 6:12 am

      America’s Governor? I LOVE that!
      I totally agree on the title! Wow! Good one

      • Tom

        June 24, 2021 at 9:10 am

        Yes love that!

  • shelley cannon

    June 23, 2021 at 6:10 am

    Governor DeSantis is THE MAN!!
    Where are more of these strong, intelligent, articulate, benevolent gentlemen? Like DeSantis, Trump, Cruz, and in other important areas~Ben Shapiro and Candice Owens who I totally support and admire.
    Please don’t be a dying breed. We need your integrity, dignity and wisdom/expertise to keep us moving in the right direction. I want to move to your state, badly, because you are what I believe and I don’t see it anywhere else.

    • Tom

      June 24, 2021 at 2:28 pm

      Your talking to one of them.
      Yes, he is America’s Governor.

  • Tom

    June 23, 2021 at 11:38 pm

    America’s Governor is rocking the state.
    As the game show says, Shelley come on down!
    Whiz kid, youngest Gov in country is on the right path. His title is well deserved!

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