Jobs in information technology grew 16.7% faster in Polk County compared with statewide figures posted a year ago, according to a report released Friday from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
That put Polk in second place for the fastest growth in information jobs in all metro areas in Florida.
Also in the past year, jobs in the business services category and education and health services category rose faster in Polk County compared to the state, a DEO press release said. They gained workers by 7.6% and 4.6%, respectively.
Additional employment numbers for the region also indicated signs of higher overall employment in Polk County.
In the latest figures for June, the unemployment rate for Polk County was 3.7%, the DEO said, 2.5 percentage points lower than the rate of 6.2% from a year ago.
In Polk County, the labor force was 337,225, a rise of 9,058 workers or 2.8% since June last year. In all, there were 12,487 unemployed residents.
In June, nonagricultural employment in the Lakeland-Winter Haven region rose to 259,500, with an increase of 9,900 jobs, or 4%, compared with June 2021.
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The industries gaining in jobs over the year were:
- Trade, transportation, and utilities, which added 3,700 jobs.
- Professional and business services, adding 2,600 jobs.
- Education and health services, with 1,600 more jobs.
- Leisure and hospitality, with an increase of 1,400.
- Other services, with 500 more jobs.
- Financial activities, adding 400.
- Information, with the addition of 300 jobs.
The manufacturing and government categories were unchanged over the year. The mining, logging and construction industries were down by 600 jobs over the year.
According to Robert Dietz chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, declines in construction jobs could be caused by factors in both residential and commercial construction.
“Over the last two years, one of the things that happened is that there’s been job growth in residential because the housing market’s been so hot,” Dietz said.
Construction of commercial buildings for retail and office, however, suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. That has started to improve in recent months, he said, but home building is mixed.
“We are beginning to see there are some definite weaknesses in the housing market with April as the inflection point,” he said. The June housing data also showed a “softening of sales activity.” But he warned data can vary locally.
“That shouldn’t translate right away into job losses for home builders, and the reason why is it takes about six or seven months to build a home,” Dietz said.
The residential sector has seen tremendous growth in jobs between 2015 and 2020 as skilled labor shortages were addressed with programs to bring on workers, he said.
The recently published Annual Market Report by SVN Saunders Ralston Dantzler Real Estate firm documented the 2021 residential housing market along the Interstate 4 corridor.
- Florida building permits for housing are now at a 17,000 per month.
- The Orlando metropolitan area has more than 25,000 permits per year.
- Polk County issued about 13,000 housing permits in 2021.
Still, the firm’s managing director, Gary Ralston, said that the rise in the median price of homes in Polk County and rising interest rates were pushing out some home buyers, as only 40% of prospective home buyers could afford the monthly mortgage payments.
In Florida data, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 2.8% in June, down 0.1 percentage point from May, and down 2 percentage points from June 2021, the DEO said. There were 303,000 jobless Floridians out in a total labor force of 10,633,000.
Florida’s seasonally adjusted total nonagricultural employment was 9,344,500 in June, an increase of 30,600 jobs and up 0.3% over the month. The state gained 453,600 jobs over the year, which was a gain of 5.1%.
Nationally, the number of jobs rose 4.3% over the year. Florida’s total employment surpassed the February 2020 pre-pandemic level in October. Its labor force surpassed the February 2020 level in June.
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. unemployment rates were lower in June in 10 states and the District of Columbia, higher in two states, and stable in 38 states when compared with May.
All 50 states had jobless rate decreases from June 2021. The national unemployment rate remained at 3.6% but was 2.3 percentage points lower than in June 2021.
Nonfarm payroll employment increased in 13 states, decreased in two states, and
was essentially unchanged in 35 states and the District of Columbia in June, the BLS said. Over the year, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 47 states and the District and was essentially unchanged in three states.
Minnesota had the lowest jobless rate in June, 1.8%, with the District of Columbia at the highest unemployment rate, 5.5%.
In total, 20 states had unemployment rates lower than the U.S. figure of 3.6%, including Florida.