In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced leading to lockdowns and a nationwide economic collapse.
That showed up in the unemployment data released Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. Every county in Florida — except for Miami-Dade, Osceola and Taylor — posted higher unemployment rates a year ago. Some were substantially higher.
Citrus County was no exception.
The unemployment rate here was 6.4% in March 2021, down from 7.8% last year. However, Citrus County had a higher rate than February 2021 when it was 6.1%.
Here are the highlights:
• Citrus County’s labor force increased by 1,353 in March, to 48,994. The number of employed rose by 1,109 to 45,866 and the number of unemployed rose by 244 to 3,128.
• Compared to March 2020, the labor force increased by 252, the number of employed is up by 932 and there were 680 more unemployed.
• Citrus County was tied with Osceola County for third worst unemployment rate in the state in March.
Miami-Dade County had the highest unemployment rate in the state at 8.2%. Monroe County had the lowest at 3.3%.
Rusty Skinner, CEO of CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion, said the report indicates the economic recovery “continues to be well underway.”
“Strong labor force and employment expansion over the previous month are a solid indicator of the recovery of our businesses,” Skinner said. “The percentage increase in the unemployment rate is deceiving in this situation.
"While the rate increased, it indicated that more people were actually looking for work than the market could absorb.”
To further emphasize the growth, Skinner pointed to the increase in the number of employed noting that “these numbers were larger than the same time last year, at the very start of the pandemic.”