Published Monday, August 22, 2016

Palm Beach County’s labor market added jobs at a robust pace in July, bouncing back from a tepid showing in June.

Palm Beach County employment grew by 3.1 percent from July 2015 to July 2016, matching the statewide pace of growth, Florida’s labor department said Friday.

That was a sharp improvement from last month’s report, which showed Palm Beach County’s annual pace of job growth at just 1.9 percent.

In one change, construction employment picked up. Palm Beach County’s building industry added 1,500 jobs over the past year. Last month, growth in construction jobs stood at just 200 jobs.

“I’m hearing that contractors can’t find tradespeople because they’re all busy working on projects,” said Cal Cearley, president of Palm Beach Community Bank in West Palm Beach.

Meanwhile, Palm Beach County unemployment rose to 5.2 percent in July, up from 5 percent in June.

“July’s unemployment rate reflects the traditionally slower summer season,” said Steve Craig, president of the nonprofit CareerSource Palm Beach County.

With students out of school, the labor force grew. There were 703,864 people in the county’s official labor force in July, up from 695,481 in June.

Florida’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate remained at 4.7 percent in July, the same as June. And Florida’s annual job growth of 3.1 percent easily outpaced that of other large states. California’s job growth was 2.3 percent, Texas’ just 1.5 percent.

Statewide, the professional and business services sector still leads the way. That catch-all corner of the economy added 53,400 jobs statewide over the past year. Other gainers were the combined category of education and health services (up 48,800 jobs), leisure and hospitality (41,100 jobs), trade, transportation, and utilities (30,700 jobs) and construction (26,400 jobs).

In Palm Beach County, the biggest gainers were professional and business services (up 4,500 jobs), leisure and hospitality (4,000 jobs), education and health services (3,600 jobs) and financial activities (1,600 jobs).

The wage picture looks promising — finally. State economists don’t report wage data, but the U.S. Labor Department report for July said paychecks jumped 2.6 percent over the past year, the sharpest increase in recent memory.

Palm Beach Post
Jeff Ostrowski


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