Defense, hospitality remain Okaloosa's main employers

unemployment forward

Inside the JobsPlus One-Stop vehicle, employment counselors Randy Hunter and Valerie McLaughlin, center and right, help a Crestview resident prepare her résumé for a jobs fair.

FILE PHOTO / News Bulletin
Published: Friday, April 26, 2013 at 07:03 PM.

CRESTVIEW — Just as the regional military presence sheltered north Okaloosa County’s real estate market during the recent recession, it also helped keep unemployment below the national average.

In February, the last month with available data, Okaloosa County had a 5.5 percent unemployment rate. That was down a half-percent from January, and nearly a percent and a half from February 2012's 6.9 percent.

The county surpassed the February 7.5 percent statewide unemployment rate and the national 8.1 percent, Linda Sumblin, Workforce Development Board’s executive director, said.

"We're optimistic," she said. "We have the luxury of having one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state at this time."

Only Monroe County, with 4.2 percent unemployment for February, had a lower rate, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Sequestration still a threat

A potential impediment to continued growth is sequestration, Sumblin said. However, the Department of Defense has lowered the number of possible furlough days for civilian employees, she said.

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