Marion County’s unemployment rate dropped in September, dipping to 5.6 percent, according to data released Friday by CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion, the regional employment agency.
Marion’s latest rate was one-half of a percentage point below the jobless rate for August, CareerSource reported.
Among Florida’s major metro areas, the Ocala Metropolitan Statistical Area, or MSA, which encompasses all of Marion County, posted the fastest annual job growth rate in government employment, at 12.2 percent, as well as in the leisure and hospitality sector, which grew by 7 percent.
The community also recorded the third-fastest job growth in the mining, logging and construction category, rising 8.2 percent.
CareerSource also reported that nonfarm employment in the Ocala MSA was 108,200, which increased by 1,800 jobs over the last month and was up by 1,700 jobs than in September 2019, good for an annual job growth rate of 1.6 percent.
In terms of actual new jobs, the Ocala MSA posted the biggest gains among metro areas in the state in leisure and hospitality industry, which added 900 jobs from a year ago, and ran second-highest in government job growth, with 1,900 new workers.
Rusty Skinner, CEO of CareerSource, said Marion’s unemployment rate dropped because of growth in both the labor force and employment.
“September is usually a month where we see data fluctuate, transitioning from summer to ‘pre-holiday’ hiring,” Skinner said in a statement. “It’s important to focus on the fact that the jobs are out there. We just held a very successful virtual job fair in partnership with the Mid-Florida Regional Manufacturers Associations and on Nov. 10 we’re holding a three county Paycheck for Patriots Job Fair, which will also be virtual.”
For those seeking employment, Skinner said they can take advantage of other CareerSource’s virtual services, including the free SkillUp Citrus Levy Marion online job training and certification platform, as well as employment assistance by phone, email, Live Chat and teleconferencing.
In addition, the local career center continues to be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for in-person services; appointments are recommended but no longer required.