Palm Beach County Unemployment Rate Lowest in Three Years, Drops for Seventh Consecutive Month

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Palm Beach County’s unemployment rate for February 2012 was 9.2 percent – down 0.4 percentage points from the January 2012 rate of 9.6 percent – and a 1.7 percentage point decrease from the February 2011 rate of 10.9 percent. This is the county’s lowest unemployment rate since February 2009 (also 9.2 percent) and the seventh consecutive monthly decline, according to information provided today by Workforce Alliance and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The state’s unemployment rate for February 2012 was 9.1 percent and the national rate was 8.7 percent (not seasonally adjusted).

The improvement in the county’s unemployment rate reflects a gradual, but steady, recovery in the area’s economy. This marks the first time since mid-2009 that the county’s unemployment rate has been in the single digits for three consecutive months.

Palm Beach County’s unemployment rate for February 2012 was 9.2 percent – down 0.4 percentage points from the January 2012 rate of 9.6 percent – and a 1.7 percentage point decrease from the February 2011 rate of 10.9 percent. This is the county’s lowest unemployment rate since February 2009 (also 9.2 percent) and the seventh consecutive monthly decline, according to information provided today by Workforce Alliance and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The state’s unemployment rate for February 2012 was 9.1 percent and the national rate was 8.7 percent (not seasonally adjusted).

“The improvement in the county’s unemployment rate reflects a gradual, but steady, recovery in the area’s economy. This marks the first time since mid-2009 that the county’s unemployment rate has been in the single digits for three consecutive months. And there’s more good news -- the number of job openings has increased 22.6 percent in the county compared to this same time last year,” said Steve Craig, president and chief executive officer of Workforce Alliance, the nonprofit organization chartered by the state of Florida to lead workforce development in Palm Beach County.

The latest report shows that Palm Beach County gained 2,500 jobs and experienced employment growth in six industry categories over the previous 12 months: education and health services (+3,300 jobs), professional and business services (+3,000 jobs), trade/transportation/utilities (+1,400 jobs), financial activities (+500 jobs), information (+300 jobs), and construction (+200 jobs). Palm Beach County ranked first in the state for job gains in the information and construction sectors. Job losses over the same period were primarily in leisure and hospitality (-5,200 jobs), and government (-300 jobs).

There were 17,507 advertised job openings in Palm Beach County in February 2012, an increase of 22.6 percent (+2,878) from February 2011. The number of advertised job openings bottomed out in January 2009 in Palm Beach County, with job demand increasing by 7,547 openings since then.

Workforce Alliance has been instrumental in placing thousands of Palm Beach County job seekers in jobs, from entry-level positions to the executive suite. In 2011, Workforce Alliance placed a record 13,453 candidates in jobs – a 2.5 percent increase compared to the previous year.

Besides helping area job seekers enter or re-enter the job market, Workforce Alliance helps improve the economy by providing services to help businesses compete in today’s challenging marketplace. These services include recruitment, assessments and referrals of qualified job candidates; space and staff assistance for screening/interviewing candidates; and grants for training new or existing employees. Workforce Alliance awarded more than $2.5 million in training grants to employers and job seekers in 2011.

On average, more than 11,000 visitors each month receive help from the specialized services at three Workforce Alliance Career Centers and two Executive Transition Units for professionals with a four-year college degree. The centers offer more than 100 classes and workshops each month for job search and job skills training, career development and consulting. There is no cost for services for job seekers. Schedules of workshops and employers that are interviewing are posted on the Workforce Alliance website at http://www.pbcalliance.com.

More information also is available at the Workforce Alliance Career Centers:
Central Career Center - 1951 N. Military Trail, Ste D, West Palm Beach (561) 340-1060
South Career Center - 951 Yamato Road, Ste 175, Boca Raton (561) 853-0181
West Career Center - 1085 Main Street, Belle Glade, FL 33430 (561) 829-2040

Note to editors: You are invited to send a reporter/photographer/video crew to interview a Workforce Alliance spokesperson and/or job seekers at our Central Career Center in West Palm Beach (the center also is hosting a career training expo today). Please call 561.340.1060, ext. 2368, 561.452.0703 or 561.340.1061 ext. 2229 for scheduling.

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Tom Veenstra

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