County Unemployment Rate Down After Strong Job Growth In 2017

The year 2017 ended with among the lowest unemployment rates in a decade for Palm Beach County — 3.6 percent for December 2017, down from 4.6 percent a year ago and below November’s 3.8 percent.

The county’s rate was lower than the state’s 3.7 percent and the nation’s 3.9 percent, all numbers not seasonally adjusted, according to reports released this month by CareerSource Palm Beach County and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

“The job market outlook is among the brightest in a decade. Palm Beach County gained a remarkable 10,300 jobs over the year, and there were 19,659 available advertised jobs in December — that’s 1,771 more jobs than last year,” 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.

In each month of 2017, Palm Beach County’s monthly unemployment rate was lower than in 2016, with monthly job gains averaging more than 13,000. Over the past 12 months, the county’s unemployment rate ranged between 3.6 and 5.2 percent, primarily reflecting seasonal fluctuations. This compares favorably with state and national levels, and is about one-third of what it was at the 11.6 percent peak unemployment rate in the summer of 2010.

On a percentage basis, job gains in December were led by the construction industry with 10.6 percent over-the-year job growth, above 9.1 percent statewide, reflecting a very competitive market for this industry sector.

Rebuilding efforts following Hurricane Irma put additional pressure on the already strong demand for construction workers throughout South Florida. The construction sector added jobs in every month of 2017, and had a higher percentage of monthly job growth over the state average during the same period.

The number of jobs in three sectors — construction, government and leisure/hospitality — grew faster than statewide over the year.

The top 10 fastest-growing occupations included many in the healthcare industry. In total, 8 of the top 10 fastest-growing occupations in Palm Beach County are in the healthcare/life sciences sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Market Statistics report released last month. The top 10 occupations are: nurse practitioners, personal care aides, home health aides, physical therapists, diagnostic medical sonographers, web developers, physical therapist assistants, phlebotomists, credit counselors and medical assistants.

The Conference Board produces a monthly report of advertised jobs by position. The top 10 most help-wanted ads in the county for December 2017 are for registered nurses; retail salespeople; first-line supervisors of retail sales workers; first-line supervisors of food preparation and serving workers; customer service representatives; accountants; bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks; first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers; computer user support specialists; and restaurant cooks.

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