Labor force expansion, increase in employment ‘holds promise’ for region

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Posted March 25, 2024 | CareerSource
Citrus Levy Marion

OCALA, Fla. (March 22, 2024) – The jobless rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region was 4.3% in February, a full percent increase over the month and 0.8 percentage point greater than the region’s year ago rate of 3.5%. The labor force was 219,918, up 2,438 (+1.1%) over the year. There were 9,523 unemployed residents in the region, a dip of 116 over the month but up 1,858 compared to February 2023.

According to preliminary employment data released today by FloridaCommerce, there were 210,395 employed across the region, an increase of 395 since January and 580 more than the same time last year.

Rusty Skinner, CareerSource CLM’s chief executive officer, said the report points to a “positive expansion” of the labor force and that new or returning job seekers are a good sign for employers seeking to fill their positions.”

“Our region continues to see employment growth and we are seeing increased activity from job seekers in all our centers,” Skinner said, adding that that CareerSource CLM is working with area employers to fill an increasing number of postings.

“Both the increases in job seekers and the increases in job listings hold promise to everyone in our area,” he said.

Levy County continued to post the lowest unemployment rate in the region at 3.8%, a 0.2 percentage point drop compared to January and a 0.6% increase over the year. Marion County followed at 4.1% which was down 0.1 point over the month and a bump of 0.7 percentage point compared to the county’s year-ago rate. Citrus County’s rate of 5.2% remained unchanged since January but was 1.1% higher compared to February 2023.

Statewide, with jobless rates remained unchanged over the month in 32 counties, dropped in 20 and rose in 15. Compared to a year ago, rates were unchanged in one county, dropped in one and rose in 65.

Nonfarm employment in the Ocala Metropolitan Area, which covers all of Marion County, was 121,100 in February, an increase of 1,200 jobs over the year for a 1.0% growth rate.

The Leisure and Hospitality industry grew faster in the metro area at 2.9% than statewide over the year.

Industries gaining jobs were Education and Health Services (+700 jobs); Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (+500 jobs); Leisure and Hospitality (+400 jobs); Government (+300 jobs); Mining, Logging, and Construction (+200 jobs); and Other Services (+100 jobs).

Industries losing jobs were Manufacturing (-600 jobs): Professional and Business Services (-300 jobs); and Financial Activities (-100 jobs).

Information Technology remained unchanged over the year.

The Homosassa Springs Metro Area, which includes all of Citrus County, posted 35,500 jobs in February, a decrease of 300 jobs (-0.8%) over the year.

Skinner said that one-way CareerSource CLM assists employers is via a variety of job fairs, including youth job fairs for students and graduates ages 16-24. Upcoming job fairs include:

  • Citrus County Youth Job Fair on April 26 from 3-5 p.m. at the College of Central Florida in Lecanto;
  • Marion County Youth Job Fair on May 7 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion in Ocala; and
  • Marion County Public Schools Hiring Event for Teachers on May 9 from 1-3 p.m. at CF’s Klein Center in Ocala.

Additional job fairs for general job seekers are also in the works for later in the summer and fall.

Skinner noted that those who continue to seek employment can receive fee-free help and training opportunities at any CareerSource CLM career center.

Information about fee-free job fairs, hiring events and other job seeker and employer services are available at or by calling 800-434-JOBS (5627).

State and local employment reports for March 2024 are scheduled for release on April 19.

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