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Citrus County’s unemployment rate went down slightly in August to 6.3%, according to data released Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO). 

That’s down from 6.5% in July and 8.0% in August 2020.

The county’s labor force in August  increased by 496 over the month to 49,146, according to data released Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO). 

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The number of employed rose by 568 to 46,044 and the number of unemployed fell by 72 to 3,102.

Citrus had the sixth highest unemployment rate of all 67 Florida counties.

Compared to August 2020 when the unemployment rate was 8.0%, the county’s labor force grew by 2,849, there were 3,439 more employed and 580 fewer unemployed.

Rusty Skinner 2021 USE THIS MUG

Rusty Skinner, CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion CEO

“The good news in today’s release is the long-term growth and rebounding of the labor market in our three-county area,” Rusty Skinner, CEO of CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion, said. “Over the past year, each county has seen significant growth in their labor force and employment, while also seeing the decline in the number of unemployed citizens.

Skinner said Citrus and Levy counties bucked the historic summer trend by showing expansions in labor force and employment coupled with a slight drop in the number of unemployed. 

Hendry County, in the south-central part of Florida, had the state’s highest unemployment rate in August at 7.4%. Monroe County, the southernmost county in Florida, had the lowest at 3.2%.

In the Homosassa Springs Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) — which includes all of Citrus County — there were 32,700 nonfarm jobs, an increase of 800 jobs over the year for an annual growth rate of 2.5%.

The state's unemployment rate in August was 5.0%, down from 5.1% a month earlier. Nationally, the rate was 5.3%, down from 5.7%.

FDEO chief economist Adrienne Johnston called Florida’s figures “positive.”

“I think what we saw is continued job gains in the private sector, which is what we were expecting and that's what we were hoping to see,” she said. “More importantly, as we saw more jobs added to payrolls … we also see people joining the labor market.”

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