Treasure Coast unemployment down in August compared to July; 15,000 more had jobs

Paul Ivice Special to TCPalmPublished 7:01 AM EDT Sep 22, 2020Almost 15,000 more Treasure Coast residents were

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Almost 15,000 more Treasure Coast residents were employed in August than the previous month, driving the three-country region’s combined unemployment rate down more than 3 percentage points to 6.8%.

Also contributing to the lower jobless rate in August was a workforce that has begun to rebound, with about 4,000 more area residents available to work in August, data compiled from the U.S. Department of Labor’s monthly telephone survey show.

The Treasure Coast region’s estimated available workforce of 281,341 for August is almost identical to the number of residents actually employed last October when the region hit an all-time high employment level of 281,342.

In October, the unemployment rate was 3.3%, with about 9,700 people unemployed and actively seeking work. Last month, 19,193 Treasure Coast residents were unemployed and seeking work.

Statewide, the unemployment rate fell almost 4 percentage points to 7.7%.

St. Lucie County’s 7.4% jobless rate is the 10th-highest in the state.

Across the Treasure Coast, two industry sectors — leisure and hospitality; and education and health services — account for about half of the nearly 11,200 jobs lost since a year ago.

On a brighter note, major industry sectors that gained jobs over the year were construction, manufacturing and trade, transportation and utilities.

The region’s smaller available workforce — down 10,000 people in August from an all-time peak in October, and 15,000 less in July — is reflected in lower labor force participation rates in all three Treasure Coast counties in July, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported.

The labor force participation rate represents the number of people in the labor force as a percentage of the civilian non-institutional population. In other words, the participation rate is the percentage of the population that is either working or actively looking for work.

Adults who might not be included in the labor participation rate could be students, homemakers, the chronically ill or their unpaid caregivers, and those who have given up looking for work.

Among the three Treasure Coast counties, Indian River has the lowest labor participation rate at 48%. Indian River also had the lowest participation rate in 2015 (51.4%) and has had the largest rate decline over the past five years (3.4 percentage points).

St. Lucie's labor participation rate in July was 52.5% and Martin County’s was 53.8%.

All three counties’ participation rates are down a couple of points from a year ago, and that decline was likely caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
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