Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Palm Beach County Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.5 Percent; More Job Openings Than Unemployed for Five Consecutive Months

Palm Beach County Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.5 Percent; More Job Openings Than Unemployed for Five Consecutive Months

Palm Beach County job seekers have many reasons to be merry this holiday season, according to the latest monthly reports released today by CareerSource Palm Beach County and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (all numbers not seasonally adjusted):

  • Palm Beach County’s unemployment rate for November announced today is 3.5 percent -- below both the 3.9 percent national rate and Florida’s 3.6 percent rate. November’s rate also dropped below the year-ago rate of 4.4 percent. Palm Beach County’s unemployment rate had been below both the nation and state for more than a year.
  • For the fifth consecutive month, there are more job openings than unemployed people in Palm Beach County – 39,258 job openings vs. 26,537 unemployed people in November.
  • Total nonagricultural employment in Palm Beach County is 641,900 adding 31,000 jobs over the year – a 5.1 percent gain.

“Job seekers have much to celebrate – there are more job openings than unemployed people and 31,000 more people are working now compared to last year,” said Julia Dattolo, President and CEO of CareerSource Palm Beach County, the nonprofit organization chartered by the state to lead workforce development in Palm Beach County.

Job growth by industry sector: For eight consecutive months, the leisure/hospitality industry sector has led the county in over-the-year job growth – adding 10,600 jobs for a 13.9 percent jump. Jobs in the education/health services, construction and manufacturing sectors grew faster in the county than statewide over the year.

By the numbers, over-the-year job gains/losses in Palm Beach County were:

Industry                                               Change                         Total jobs

Leisure/hospitality                                +10,600 jobs                87,100            

Education/health services                     +6,700 jobs                  107,600

Trade/transportation/utilities               +4,300 jobs                  118,500

Professional/business services              +3,900 jobs                  121,400

Construction                                        +2,000 jobs                  39,900

Financial activities                                +1,900 jobs                  45,500

Other services                                      +1,500 jobs                  31,400

Manufacturing                                      +1,000 jobs                  20,500

Information                                          +600 jobs                     10,000

Government                                         -1,500 jobs                   59,800

Outside of the Great Depression, the county’s record high unemployment rate reached 14.7 percent in April 2020.  The record-low unemployment rate was 2.7 percent in Dec. 2019.

Employment Outlook for 2022

Palm Beach County will trend better than state, nation: Except for a single month, Palm Beach County’s unemployment rate has been below both the nation and state for more than a year. We expect continued strong and steady local job growth with the most in-demand jobs in the hospitality/tourism, healthcare, professional/business services and construction/trades industry sectors.

“COVID paradox” extended: Nationally, Omicron and other potential variations will extend the effects of millions of open jobs unfilled and millions of people voluntarily bowing out of the labor market. In Oct. 2021 (latest available), the ratio of unemployed workers to job openings hit a new national low. Locally, there have been more job openings than unemployed people in Palm Beach County for the past four consecutive months.

COVID has accelerated three pre-existing conditions that will continue to impact the job market:

• Mass exodus of baby boomers: According to the Pew Research Center, some 2 million baby boomers retire each year. In 2020, this number appears to have grown to a historic high: over 3 million decided to end their careers. Their accelerated departure from the labor force with decades of experience will be hard to replace.

• Record-low labor force participation rate: Thousands of Americans have voluntarily opted out of looking for work.

• Lowest birth rates in U.S. history: The national birth rate, already in decline, hit a 35-year low in 2019, and the relative size of the working-age population has been shrinking since 2008. While boomers were born into families with an average of four children each, boomers had an average of just 1.8 children. Thus, as they leave the workforce, there simply aren’t enough workers to replace them.

Wage increases: Employers competing to fill jobs from a decreasing pool of applicants continue to raise wages to attract talent. Wages in the U.S. increased 9.7 percent in Oct. 2021 (latest available) compared to a year ago. Wage growth reached an all-time high of 15.3 percent in April 2021! At CareerSource Palm Beach County, many entry level jobs ranging between $9 and $11 per hour before COVID now range between $14 and $16 hourly as the “de facto minimum.”

Creative hiring/recruiting:  Besides raising wages and offering signing/retention bonuses, employers have been offering perks such as flexible work schedules, 4-day work weeks, full or part-time work from home, child care and other benefits. Overtime can be positive or negative – some workers want all they can get while others resent having to work extra shifts due to staff shortages/burnout. Employers also are turning to younger workers, less experienced workers and people with minor criminal backgrounds to help fill staffing gaps. Businesses with lengthy screening/hiring processes will continue to miss out.

Growth in remote, hybrid work: The rate of remote work has been steadily increasing and Ladders, Inc. predicts a quarter of all high-paying jobs will be remote by the end of 2022. According to the job site, high-paying remote jobs amounted to 4 percent of all such postings before the pandemic, rose to 9 percent at the end of 2020 and are up to 15 percent today. Besides eliminating commuting costs, an analysis by the University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute for Economics found lower spending on meals, entertainment, personal services and shopping, cutting spending in major cities by 5 to 10 percent of overall pre-pandemic spending. Just 17 percent of workers want to work from the office every day, according to a report by the Fall 2021 Future Forum Pulse.

Growth in automation: When massive layoffs followed the pandemic strike, many employers were forced to operate with fewer workers through automation and process improvements. Demand for collaborative robots or “cobots” is surging. They are used for tasks such as assembly, dispensing, inspecting, welding, moving parts/products in factories/warehouses and more. The pandemic also accelerated digital transformation of business activities, eliminating many routine jobs.

New Year, New Career? Here’s Help!

CareerSource offers virtual and in-person job fairs, classes and facilities for job searches, grants for job skills training for those who qualify, career development and consulting – at no cost! During the past five program years, CareerSource Palm Beach County assisted nearly 60,000 residents find employment ranging from entry-level to executive suite, with salaries from these jobs creating $1.2 billion in annual wages. CareerSource also awarded $10.1 million in grants to area businesses and employees for job training and educational assistance during that time.  More information is at

CareerSource also provides services to help rebuild and sustain businesses in today’s challenging marketplace. CareerSource absorbs the cost of most of these services including recruitment, assessments and referrals of qualified job candidates; space and staff assistance for screening/interviewing candidates; and grants for training employees. 

Holiday closings: Our facilities will be closed Thurs. Dec. 23 and Fri. Dec. 24 for Christmas, and Fri. Dec. 31 and Mon. Jan. 3 for New Year’s.

Next monthly employment reports for Florida and Palm Beach County:  State and local employment reports for Dec. and full-year 2021 are scheduled for release on Jan. 21.


Note to editors: You are invited to interview a CareerSource spokesperson on local employment and economic trends before 3:00 p.m. today. Please call 561.340.1061 ext. 2229 for scheduling.

Note: The unemployment rate is a measure of how many people in the labor force are out of a job. For example, if total employment holds constant and unemployed Americans stop looking for work, thereby leaving the labor force, the unemployment rate will fall even though no jobs have been added. Conversely, if employment holds steady and recent graduates enter the labor force looking for work, the unemployment rate will rise even though no jobs have disappeared.


CareerSource Palm Beach County, Inc. is the direct service provider for various workforce programs supported by the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and other agencies as part of awards totaling $17,610,090 (revised annually). Unless otherwise stipulated, all statements, news releases, requests for proposals, bid solicitations and other applicable documents are fully funded from federal sources.


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