Drop In Unemployment Rate Not Benefiting All
BY JALESSA CASTILLO, TIMES STAFF WRITER
As of February 2017 the unemployment rate in Central Florida has dropped to 4.4% and that seems to be good news that is having an equally positive effect on those in the community. Especially since it is 0.3% lower than the state and nation’s rate of 4.7%. Unfortunately, that is not the case. In fact, the amount of people who are unemployed differs largely based on their race, gender, and age.
“Those employed in Florida grew from 8,294,200 to 8,543,000 from February 2016 to February 2017,” stated a news-release submitted by Janie-Lynn Kang an Economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to CareerSource Central Florida, in February 2017 nonagricultural employment in the Orlando‐Kissimmee‐Sanford area increased by nearly 51,000 jobs over the year. The Orlando‐Kissimmee‐Sanford area also had the highest annual job growth compared to all the metro areas in the state in leisure and hospitality; professional and business services; trade, transportation, and utilities; financial activities; and manufacturing in February 2017.
“Today, our unemployment rate is at 4.2%, down from a high of 11.3 in the height of the worldwide recession,” said Teresa Jacobs, Orange County Mayor. “We added 127,000 new jobs and continue to welcome homegrown and relocating tech, digital and medical start-ups. And it’s not just that we’re adding jobs. We’re increasing wages – a crucial measure of economic health.”
Despite that overall growth, the unemployment rates differ once filtered through the different races and genders of those in the community.
According to the 2014 averages from U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, there was only a .7% difference in the unemployment rate of all men and women living in the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area, with women holding more jobs and having a 6% unemployment rate as opposed to men who had a rate of 6.7%.
Unfortunately, the most notable variations are seen when comparing races. The 2014 report goes on to reveal that the unemployment rate for white men and women averaged at 6.1%, with men having 5.7% and women having 6.5%; While the average rate for black or African American men and women rose to 8.9%, the rate being 13.1% for men and 4.6% for women; and the average rate for Hispanic or Latino men and women was the highest at 9.7%, with the men having a rate of 10% and women having a rate of 9.4%. The lowest average rate was that of Asian men and women at 5.3%.
“The pattern in the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area is similar to what is seen in many other places. Overall rates for men and women are similar while rates for whites are lower than those of African-Americans and Hispanics,” said Brian Hannon of the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The differences don’t stop there, a person’s age may also carry weight on their employment or lack thereof.
As stated by the 2016 averages for the state of Florida from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics teenagers (ages 16-19) have the highest unemployment rate of all age groups at 17.4%, with more young women working than young men. The age group to have the lowest unemployment rate was 45 to 54 year olds, with a rate of 3.6%.
“The pattern of Florida’s age group unemployment rate estimates is also similar to what we see elsewhere,” said Hannon. “Rates are relatively high for younger age groups and fall steadily with age through the prime working years; the oldest groups often see a slight uptick in rates.”
Although the unemployment rate cannot be sorted between those who willingly do not work and those who cannot find employment, the statistics reveal that there are major differences in the rates when comparing, most notably, race and age.
According CareerSource these are the unemployment rates for each county in the Central Florida Region: Sumter County at 7.0 percent; Lake County at 4.7 percent; Orange County at 4.2 percent; Osceola County at 4.8 percent; and Seminole County at 4.2 percent.