Published Monday, March 13, 2017

West Palm Beach, Fla. (March 13, 2017)CareerSource Palm Beach County announced today that the county’s 5.2 percent unemployment rate matched the state for January, but was 0.4 percentage points higher than the county’s rate compared to the same period last year. Both the county and state rates were slightly above the national rate of 5.1 percent (all numbers not seasonally adjusted) according to reports released today by CareerSource Palm Beach County and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

“January’s unemployment rate reflects seasonal trends and job growth continues to be healthy, with the county gaining 16,700 jobs over the year,” said Steve Craig, president and chief executive officer of CareerSource Palm Beach County, the nonprofit organization chartered by the state to lead workforce development in Palm Beach County.  

Palm Beach County also ranked 40th among the nation’s 345 largest counties in job growth with an  average employment increase of 3.6 percent from third quarter 2015 to third quarter 2016, according to the latest county employment and wages study by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was more than double the national job growth rate of 1.7 percent and nearly matching Florida’s 3.7 percent job growth rate during that period.

Mr. Craig noted that Palm Beach County’s monthly unemployment rate in 2016 ranged between 4.2 and 5.2 percent (primarily reflecting seasonal fluctuations) and he expects that trend to continue in 2017. This compares favorably with state and national levels, and is less than half of what it was at the 11.6 percent peak unemployment rate of the Great Recession in Palm Beach County in summer 2010.

Today’s report comes on top of other healthy economic indicators – record-setting tourism, rising sales tax revenues and a robust real estate market along with low inflation and interest rates.

Job growth by industry sector: Over-the-year Job gains in Palm Beach County were led by leisure/hospitality (+4,100 jobs), reflecting strong seasonal demand. Gains in other sectors were education/health services (+3,400 jobs); construction (+3,100 jobs); trade/transportation/utilities (+2,600 jobs); professional/business services (+1,900 jobs); other services (+1,000 jobs); manufacturing (+700 jobs); government (+200 jobs); and information (+100 jobs).  Over-the-year job growth in construction (+9.6 percent), leisure/hospitality (+4.7 percent), manufacturing (+3.7 percent), and information (+0.9 percent) exceeded the statewide rate for these categories.  Financial activities was the only sector that lost jobs over the year (-400 jobs).

Demand for workers rising in key industries: Mr. Craig noted that demand for workers is rising, particularly in key industries. The most demand is expected in these top 5 key industry sectors in 2017:

  1. Healthcare/life sciences
  2. Hospitality/tourism
  3. Education
  4. Aviation/aerospace/engineering
  5. Construction

February employment reports released March 24: At the beginning of each year, there is a lag in reporting January and February employment data as the U.S. Department of Labor and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity recalibrate historical data factoring in new population inputs and revisions to economic data, which creates changes in the original statistics. As a result of this process, state and local area employment reports for January are released in March. Reports for February 2017 are scheduled for release on March 24.

Whatever career you would like to pursue, the staff at CareerSource offers classes and facilities for job search, career development and consulting; and grants for job skills training for those who qualify. During the past two program years, CareerSource Palm Beach County assisted nearly 45,000 residents find employment ranging from entry level to executive suite, with salaries from these jobs creating $860 million in annual average wages. 

Services for employers: CareerSource provides a comprehensive package of services to help businesses compete in today’s challenging marketplace. CareerSource absorbs the cost of most of these services including recruitment, assessments and referrals of qualified job candidates; space and staff assistance for screening/interviewing candidates; and grants for training employees. 

Services for career seekers: CareerSource is committed to help provide Palm Beach County residents with the opportunity to get a great job and build a career. On average, 7,500 visitors each month receive help from specialized services at two career centers:

-- Central Career Center-3400 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach, FL 33406; (561) 340-1060       
-- West Career Center-1085  S. Main Street, Belle Glade, FL 33430; (561) 829-2040

The centers offer classes and facilities for job search, career development and consulting; and grants for job skills training – all at no cost for career seekers. Schedules of workshops and employer hiring events are posted at www.careersourcepbc.com.