Commentary on the Latest Employment Figures
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity released February 2021 employment figures on March 26 for the state and counties. The numbers continued to show positive momentum for the state as the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 4.7 percent, matching the same rate the state had back in January 2017. The seasonally-adjusted rate for Southwest Florida (comprising Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, and Lee County) was 3.9 percent, matching the same level as December 2017.
While the region continues to recover to pre-Covid 19 levels, these gains have not been evenly distributed amongst all industries. The chart below shows how each industry for the three coastal counties (Charlotte, Collier, Lee) have fared since the onset of the Covid-19 recession, using February 2020 as a baseline. A measure of 100 percent indicates that employment within that industry has returned to the same level of employment as February 2020, a month before the recession began.
From this chart, two things become evident: first, industries were impacted differently. Every sector showed a decline in employment shortly after February 2020, a result of the stay-at-home measures the state adopted in April 2020. The dip in employment depended on the nature of the industry, as businesses that were able to provide their goods and services from a distance fared better than businesses that were more reliant on in-person transactions.
Second, while employment in most industries continues to approach (or surpass) February 2020 levels, the leisure and hospitality industry has a long way to go. This industry was affected the most in April 2020, as employment dropped by nearly half over a two-month period. While employment in the industry has improved since then, it still remains at only 84 percent of total employment compared to February 2020, representing a loss of over 14,000 workers.
About the Author:
John Shannon is an Economic Analyst for the Regional Economic Research Institute at Florida Gulf Coast University.