Treasure Coast Unemployment is Down



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The Great Resignation may be gaining steam across the nation, but you wouldn’t know it from the record employment levels on the Treasure Coast.

With an estimated 1,745 local residents with new jobs in October, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s latest monthly telephone survey, the region had an estimated 287,779 residents with jobs, exceeding the previous high of 286,594 set in July.

With the region’s available workforce growing by 1,470 people in October, 275 less than the number of people with new jobs, the three-county region’s combined unemployment rate slid to 4.1% in October from 4.3% in September. October's increase in jobs was slightly more than in September when about 1,500 Treasure Coast residents were hired. The unemployment rate dropped more sharply in September because the region’s available workforce decreased for a second consecutive month after six months of steady increases.

Florida has regained 89% of the jobs lost during the pandemic, and continues to see significant increases in its labor force. The state’s available workforce is up 195,000 since February 2020, while the number of employed has increased by 112,000.Data in October indicated there were many job opportunities available throughout Florida, with more than 518,000 jobs posted online.

Meanwhile, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday showed a record 4.4 million people — about 3% percent of the nation’s workforce — quit in September. It marked a third consecutive record month of resignations, coming off the 4.3 million recorded in August and 4 million in July. Those who quit and are not actively seeking new jobs are not counted as unemployed. Women — who are more likely to be in positions that require in-person work, heightening their risk for coronavirus infection — have borne the brunt of  job losses since the pandemic began, research from the Brookings Institution shows.

The hardest-hit industry sectors have been retail, warehouses, food service, health care and social-assistance jobs, the Labor Department data shows. In September, workers in arts, entertainment, health services and education left their jobs at higher rates, while quits remained high among those in leisure and hospitality; restaurants; and retail. Quits also are soaring among manufacturing and warehouse workers, who are straining under the pressures of surging demand and crunched supply chains.

A recent survey — “State of Work in America,” by the business consulting firm Grant Thornton — found that flexibility in when and where work is done now outweighs compensation as a concern for many employees, with half of the respondents saying they would give up a salary increase for more flexibility. Colliding with an existing labor shortage, the surge of quits puts employers under more pressure to retain employees. At the end of September, there were more than 10.4 million unfilled jobs in the U.S. workforce, according to Labor Department data. That has spurred some companies to raise wages and offer sign-on bonuses and other deal sweeteners. For the first time, the national average hourly pay for non-managers at restaurants and bars topped $15 in May.

Noting the infrastructure legislation President Joe Biden signed last week provides money for 2 million apprenticeships, Labor Department Secretary Marty Walsh told a webinar that many people leaving jobs they don’t want need help in finding better opportunities. Better ways must be found to tell people what jobs are available with a little bit of training and a little help, Walsh said in a forum of the Brookings Institution Center for Technology Innovation.

Walsh praised apprenticeships as pathways to learn how to do jobs. "Apprenticeships," he said, 'are the way of the future.”