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Employment outlook improves from previous year

Summer unemployment numbers fall in line with seasonal trends

POSTED: July 10, 2014 1:49 a.m.

Job hunting in Gainesville might be easier for some this summer, with May records showing a decrease in the unemployment from the previous year.

“If you compare the unemployment rate in May of 2014 to May of 2013, it’s 6.1 percent rather than 6.5 percent. So, that definitely shows an improvement in the labor market,” Labor Department Director of Communications Sam Hall said.

Year to year, the unemployment rate shows a steady decline, but month to month, it still fluctuates. From April to May, the unemployment rate went up 0.6 percent.

“The increase from April to May was seasonal in nature,” Hall said. “It’s simply because you have more people entering the labor force looking for work. A lot of that is because you have your college graduates out there looking for work and you also have students looking for part-time work during the summer.”

Compared to last May, there were 2,000 new jobs in Gainesville this year, primarily in transportation, local government and retail trade, Hall said.

Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Economic Development Tim Evans said he saw growth in some other sectors.

“In terms of overall employment, the big components of the workforce for Hall County are really manufacturing and processing, which employs 27 percent of the workforce, and health care, which employs 15 percent,” Evans said. “Then there’s services, which includes logistics services, legal, accounting. And often retail is lumped into services.”

Retail openings fill during the summer because of the increase in new job hunters looking for flexible work, he said.

“Those jobs are a good source of job opportunity for those who might not necessarily need a full-time job. There’s a lot of part-time work that is available with retail and restaurant jobs for students or people who might want nontraditional work hours like nights and weekends,” Evans said.

Large-scale retailers, such as Gainesville’s Lakeshore Mall, have seen more applicants coming to fill those openings.

“Activity has picked up around the mall, and our retailers have started hiring additional employees,” said Kirsten Boettcher, marketing director for the mall.

Ultimately, this growth is because of Gainesville’s growing population, Evans said.

“Retail and restaurants are sometimes called secondary job growth opportunities. ‘Retail follows rooftops’ is the expression that you hear many times,” he said. “As we continue to grow in population, retail growth will follow. The more people that are here, the more services they demand.”

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