Hillsborough County’s unemployment rate is on the decline and officials from the Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance point to that as a positive sign the area’s economy is making a comeback.
“The economy is definitely turning around here,” said Ed Peachey, the alliance’s president and chief executive officer, during the Feb. 6 Hillsborough County Commission meeting.
Peachy and his staff were at the meeting to present a quarterly report to commissioners on the status of Hillsborough’s employment scene.
According to Peachy, the Tampa Bay area recently ranked second in the nation among the 49th largest metro areas in regard to drops in unemployment rates. The figures released show nearly a 2 percentage point drop in Tampa Bay's unemployment rate between November 2011 and November 2012. The area and the state, however, continue to see higher rates than the national average of 7.4 percent in November 2012.
Here’s a look at the numbers:Unemployment Rates Nov. 2012 Oct. 2012 Nov. 2011 Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance 7.9% 8.0% 9.8% Florida 7.9% 8.2% 9.9% U.S. Total 7.4% 7.5% 8.2%
Commissioner Victor Crist expressed concerns that many of the county’s economic development efforts are targeted at increasing the number of higher paying jobs in the area.
He said there should be a focus on making sure lower wage workers have opportunities, as well.
“Getting the unskilled employed will save us a great deal on the back end when it comes to reducing crime, reducing the costs of services,” Crist said.
Peachy told Crist his agency is focused on helping fill the void.
“(We’re) trying to work with these individuals to get them the skills they need to get into the workforce,” he said.
Information about training programs offered through the Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance is available on the agency’s website.
What do you think? Are the unemployment numbers a good sign the economy is turning around? Have you seen other signs? Share your thoughts in the comments section.