While state and regional unemployment rates continue to fall to some of the lowest levels in years, the jobless numbers in Lake and Sumter counties showed a slight increase last month, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Lake’s jobless rate was 7.2 percent in May, a slight rise from the year-low of 6.9 percent seen in April. Sumter’s rate was 5.9 percent in May, compared with 5.5 percent the month before.
Florida’s unemployment rate was 7.1 percent in May, the lowest since September 2008 when it was 7 percent. The May rate was down 0.1 percentage point from the April rate of 7.2 percent and was 1.7 percentage points lower than the year-ago rate of 8.8 percent.
The unemployment rate in Central Florida (Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Sumter counties) was 6.5 percent.
Unlike the last four months of 2012, where Lake’s jobless rate hovered around 8.4 percent, unemployment figures since January have been dropping every month — except May. The jobless rate in January was 8.3 percent, followed by 7.6 percent in February, 7.1 percent in March, 6.9 percent in April and 7.2 percent in May.
Last year at this time, the unemployment rate here was 8.9 percent.
In Lake, out of a labor force of 131,233 people, 268,954 had jobs in April and 9,489 did not. In Sumter, the labor force was 36,700, with 34,535 employed and 2,165 unemployed.
In May, Monroe County (4 percent) had the state’s lowest unemployment rate, followed by Walton County (4.1 percent), Okaloosa County (4.8 percent), Franklin County (5.2 percent), and Alachua County (5.3 percent).
Many of the counties with the lowest unemployment rates were those with relatively high proportions of government employment. Seasonal tourism was also a contributing factor, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported.
Hendry County had the highest unemployment rate (11.1 percent) in Florida in May, followed by Flagler County (9.5 percent); St. Lucie County (9.3 percent); Putnam County (9.2 percent); and Dixie and Miami-Dade counties (8.7 percent each).
Hendry had the highest unemployment rate in the state due to seasonal declines in agriculture and long-term losses in state government jobs. Hendry also was the only Florida county with a double-digit unemployment rate in May.