Unemployment rate continues free fall in April

Published May 20, 2006

Since January, Florida's unemployment rate has cruised along at historically low rates, and April's numbers continued the trend.

With the demand for professional and construction workers booming, the state's jobless rate was 3 percent last month, virtually unchanged from March and down from 3.9 percent a year ago.

In the Tampa Bay area, jobless numbers were even lower at 2.7 percent, compared with 3.8 percent in April 2005. The Tampa-St Petersburg-Clearwater area also ranked third in the state in job creation, behind No. 1 Miami and Orlando. The Tampa Bay area has added 30,600 jobs over the past year; statewide, 261,000 jobs have been created since April 2005.

"This low unemployment rate is nothing new,'' said Ed Peachey, executive director of WorkNet Pinellas, the state's employment agency. "It's been happening over the past two years.'' In response, the agency is running more job fairs, including Saturday sessions, as well as trying to match unemployed workers statewide with local job openings. One sign of the times: WorkNet Pinellas now has more than 3,500 employers listing jobs with the agency, up from 2,400 two years ago.

- KRIS HUNDLEY, Times staff writer