Construction Growth Helps Lower County Unemployment Rate

CareerSource Palm Beach County announced last week that the county’s 4.7 percent unemployment rate matched Florida’s for February and had dropped 0.5 percentage points from January. The county’s rate was 4.6 percent last year.

Both the county and state rates were lower than the national rate of 4.9 percent, according to reports released by CareerSource Palm Beach County and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

“Construction jobs in Palm Beach County soared, with 10.1 percent over-the-year job growth in February, higher than 7.1 percent statewide, reflecting a very competitive market for this industry sector. Overall, the county gained 13,200 new jobs over the year in all sectors,” said Steve Craig, president and chief executive officer of CareerSource Palm Beach County, the nonprofit organization chartered by the state to lead workforce development in Palm Beach County.

The county’s over-the-year unemployment rate reflects increases in re-entrants and new entrants into the labor force.

February’s unemployment rate is affected by total countywide labor force growth of 24,144 people. The labor force is a calculation of those working and looking for work.

Statewide statistics for “job leavers” (those who voluntarily leave a job and then seek work) and “re-entrants” (those who left the labor force and have rejoined to seek work) reflect an increasingly competitive marketplace for employers.

The number of “job leavers” rose to 12.9 percent from 11.7 percent a year ago, and “re-entrants” increased to 30.1 percent from 29.6 percent a year ago. The number of “new entrants” also increased 12.8 percent from 11.1 percent a year ago.

Palm Beach County’s monthly unemployment rate ranged between 4.4 and 5.3 percent over the past 12 months, primarily reflecting seasonal fluctuations. This compares favorably with state and national levels, and is less than half of what it was at the 11.6 percent peak unemployment rate in the summer of 2010.

Job growth by industry sector:

Over-the-year job gains in Palm Beach County were led by leisure/hospitality (+3,500 jobs), reflecting strong seasonal demand.

Gains in other sectors were construction (+3,300 jobs); professional/business services (+2,300 jobs); education/health services (+2,100 jobs); trade/transportation/utilities (+1,200 jobs); government (+1,000 jobs); manufacturing (+500 jobs); and other services (+300 jobs). Financial activities (-800 jobs) and information (-200 jobs) lost jobs over the year.

Hundreds of jobs in construction/building trades are available, and CareerSource Palm Beach County is hosting three hiring and training events throughout the county to fill immediate job openings:

• Wednesday, April 12 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at North Tech (7071 Garden Road, West Palm Beach);

• Thursday, April 13 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at West Tech (3805 N.W. 16th Street, Belle Glade); and

• Wednesday, April 26 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at South Tech (1300 S.W. 30th Ave., Boynton Beach).

Attendees can meet with dozens of local employers who have immediate jobs to fill and training providers to get started on a high-demand, high-paying job in construction/building trades. Those attending can also find out if they qualify for training scholarships.

Of 39 states adding construction jobs over the year, Florida added the most construction jobs from January 2016 to January 2017, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.

“In addition to a healthy regional economy, demand for these jobs is being fueled by infrastructure projects funded by the county sales tax increase,” Craig said.

An estimated $2.7 billion in countywide infrastructure improvement projects over the next decade will include new buildings and rebuilding existing structures, new roads and related improvement projects, rebuilding bridges and more.

At the beginning of each year, there is a lag in reporting January and February employment data, since the U.S. Department of Labor and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity recalibrate historical data factoring in new population inputs and revisions to economic data, which creates changes in the original statistics.

As a result of this process, state and local area employment reports for January were released March 13. State and local area employment reports for March 2017 are scheduled for release on April 21.

Whatever career a person would like to pursue, the staff at CareerSource offers classes and facilities for job search, career development and consulting, as well as and grants for job skills training for those who qualify.

During the past two program years, CareerSource Palm Beach County assisted nearly 45,000 residents to find employment ranging from entry level to executive suite, with salaries from these jobs creating $860 million in annual average wages.

CareerSource provides a comprehensive package of services to help businesses compete in today’s challenging marketplace. CareerSource absorbs the cost of most of these services, including recruitment, assessments and referrals of qualified job candidates; space and staff assistance for screening/interviewing candidates; and grants for training employees.

CareerSource is committed to help provide Palm Beach County residents with the opportunity to get a great job and build a career.

On average, 7,500 visitors each month receive help from specialized services at two career centers:

• The Central Career Center, located at 3400 Belvedere Road in West Palm Beach. For more information, call (561) 340-1060.

• The West Career Center, located at 1085 S. Main Street, Belle Glade. For more information, call (561) 829-2040.

The centers offer classes and facilities for job search, career development and consulting; and grants for job skills training — all at no cost for career seekers. Schedules of workshops and employer hiring events are posted online at