Skinner, Rusty CAREERSOURCE mug 0318

Rusty Skinner

CareerSource CEO

Citrus County got some positive job-growth news in February: The unemployment rate of 5.1% went down significantly from the 5.6% a month before and the rate was the same as last year during pre-pandemic conditions.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity released its numbers Friday and it shows Citrus County’s labor force in February expanded by 825 to 47,238, the number of employed increased by 1,003 to 44,824 and the number of unemployed decreased by 178 to 2,414.

Compared to February 2020, when the jobless rate was 5.6%, the labor force shrank by 683, employment fell by 942 and the number of unemployed increased by 259.

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Compared to February 2020, when the jobless rate was also 5.1%, the labor force shrank by 223, employment fell by 218 and the number of unemployed increased by only five people.

Citrus was tied with Highlands and Lake counties for 8th highest jobless rate.

Osceola County had the state’s highest unemployment rate at 8.8% and Wakulla County the lowest at 2.6%.

Surrounding counties posted these February rates: Hernando (4.9%), Levy (3.8%), Marion (4.4%) and Sumter (4.5%).

Florida’s February unemployment rate was 5.0% and the national rate was 6.6%

Rusty Skinner, CEO of CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion, said that while all three counties would “undoubtedly see those numbers turn downward” as layoffs related to COVID-19 began to be felt, “it is significant that our region is starting off from a position of economic strength.”

Skinner said “the February report indicates that our area is continuing its recovery from the disruption of the pandemic." 

“All three counties show growth in their labor force numbers and the number of persons employed,” he said. “Correspondingly, both the number of unemployed and the rate of unemployment have declined.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Michael D. Bates at 352-563-3205 or mbates@chronicleonline.com. To see more of his stories, visit  tinyurl.com/y6kb23vv.