Saturday, January 23, 2016, By Paul Brinkmann, Staff Writer:
Orlando-area jobless rate falls.
December’s 4.3 percent mark the lowest in more than 7 years.
The Orlando area’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.3 percent in December, according to state statistics released Friday, making it the lowest rate in more than seven years.
December numbers are always relatively good because of holiday hiring, but the number is also 0.8 percent lower than December 2014.
“It’s very competitive. We’re at the point now where we’re at a fully employed economy,” said David Sprinkle, executive recruiter for Veritas Recruiting Group in Lake Mary. “It’s challenging to find people who are qualified that aren’t working, especially for people with experience and degrees.”
The good news about Orlando jobs comes the day after news broke that payroll processing giant ADP may bring 2,400 new jobs to the Orlando suburb of Maitland.
Sprinkle said the most demand for qualified professionals is in accounting, finance and information technology locally, but “we are really seeing it across all professional positions now.” He said home builders are hiring for back-office positions.
According to Sprinkle, the pressure is driving up salaries in some areas and resulting in companies offering more perks and benefits.
As usual, leisure and hospitality generated the most new jobs in the region during the last 12 months with 12, 600 new jobs; professional and business services grew by 7,900 new jobs; and trade, transportation, and utilities grew by 6,700 new jobs.
The labor force in the metro area remained steady compared with November, at 1.22 million, but is up from 1.21 million in December 2014. That means people have returned to job hunting and also could reflect some population growth.
“This was another good report for Florida and Central Florida, confirming that 2015 ended on a strong note,” said UCF economist Sean Snaith.
“Eventually this path will lead to faster wage and salary growth, but the headline unemployment rate alone doesn’t tell us about any hidden slack in the labor market,” he said. “Once that hidden unemployment/underemployment is absorbed, then wages will grow faster.”
In total, the Orlando metro area added 35,500 new private sector jobs during the last 12 months. For the second time in recent months, Orlando was second only to Tampa in the number of jobs created during the last 12 months.
Florida’s unemployment rate for December was 5 percent, down 0.1 percent from the November revised rate of 5.1 percent and down 0.7 percent from December 2014.
The Orlando metro area had the second-highest job demand in Florida in December with 34,279 openings. It also ranked second in the state for demand in high-wage, high-skill STEM jobs, with 8,831 openings in the fields.
Seminole County had the lowest jobless rate in the region, as usual, at just 4.1 percent for December. That’s down from 4.3 percent in November and down from 4.9 percent a year ago.
Orange County’s job less rate was 4.2 percent in December, down from 4.4 percent in November and down from 5 percent a year ago.
Osceola’s rate dropped to 4.9 percent, the first time it has been under 5 percent since the Great Recession. A year ago, the Osceola rate was 5.8 percent.
The local numbers for December might tick upward a bit after they are seasonally adjusted, but the adjustments are not usually dramatic.