New data: Alachua County unemployment falling

Job openings in Alachua County fell by roughly a third from July to September, according to the Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce.

At the end of July, openings topped 12,000 as employers sought new workers. Now, companies have posted more than 8,000, a fall of more than 4,000 positions.

“There has been a huge reduction in the past several months in the number of jobs that are available,” Staci Bertrand, vice president of economic development for the chamber, said in a phone interview. “Many of those jobs either were filled or closed out.”

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She said the chamber believes companies filled most of those postings and remains optimistic about the job market.

The state released data Friday showing Alachua County and the rest of Florida have seen increased employment and lower unemployment even as the civilian labor force expands.

Alachua County added just over 4,500 jobs from August to September―with unemployment dropping from 5,869 to 5,011. The labor civilian force rose by just under 4,000 in the same time span.

Statewide, employment rose by 63,000 Floridians, while the labor force jumped by some 50,000.

Bertrand says the sector with the most openings is healthcare with 2,400 openings for practitioners and support roles. The management field has 500 spots and manufacturing comes in at 300, and the retail and hospitality industry also need workers with more than 1,000 openings.

While some positions require certain credentials, Bertrand said many businesses are willing to train on the go and provide the education needed, including apprenticeships for electricians and plumbers.

On Tuesday, the chamber held a hospitality job fair at UF with 25 companies trying to recruit students and members of the general workforce. Most of the companies were hiring on the spot.

The Alachua County Hospitality Council held another job fair back in August, with some hotels needing to double their workforce.

Bertrand said employees have become confident in the containment of the coronavirus and are willing to work again.

“I think people with the vaccine have made a transition back to work, and the risks, although still there of getting COVID, have been reduced drastically so people are more open to going back to work and feeling they’re keeping their families safe and keeping themselves safe,” she said.

Nationally, the job market continues to fluctuate. CNN reported material and worker shortages for factories across the country in September as America’s industrial production fell 1.3 percent for the month.

The Labor Department reported that 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August, mostly in the hospitality and healthcare sectors.

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