Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Palm Beach County Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.3 Percent; Lowest Since Pandemic Began

Palm Beach County Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.3 Percent; Lowest Since Pandemic Began

The county’s unemployment rate for December 2021 announced today is 3.3 percent -- below the 3.7 percent national rate and just above Florida’s 3.2 percent rate. December’s rate also dropped below the year-ago rate of 3.5 percent, 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).

In addition, for six consecutive months, there are more job openings than unemployed people in Palm Beach County – 38,564 job openings vs. 25,223 unemployed people in December. Total nonagricultural employment in the county is 647,000 adding 28,400 jobs over the year – a 4.6 percent gain.

“It continues to be a strong job seekers’ market with more job openings than unemployed people, and we are closely monitoring the impacts of Omicron that could extend the effects of open jobs unfilled and people voluntarily staying out of the labor market,” 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. “We are already seeing business slowdowns in sectors such as transportation/travel as well as the extension of global supply chain bottlenecks.”


Job growth by industry sector: For nine consecutive months, the leisure/hospitality industry sector has led the county in over-the-year job growth – adding 9,800 jobs for a 12.3 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                                +9,800 jobs                  89,400            

Education/health services                     +5,100 jobs                  106,900

Trade/transportation/utilities                 +4,900 jobs                  120,300

Professional/business services               +4,000 jobs                  122,300

Construction                                        +2,200 jobs                  40,100

Other services                                      +1,600 jobs                  31,700

Financial activities                                +1,300 jobs                  45,700

Manufacturing                                      +700 jobs                     20,500

Information                                          +500 jobs                     10,000

Government                                         -1,700 jobs                   59,900


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.


2021 Employment Highlights

Highest, lowest unemployment: The county’s highest unemployment rate in 2021 reached 5.4 percent in June. The lowest unemployment rate for the year was 3.3 percent in Dec. – also the lowest since the pandemic began in March 2020. Except for a single month, Palm Beach County’s unemployment rate had been below or matched both the nation and state for more than a year.

More jobs available than unemployed: There were more job openings than unemployed people in Palm Beach County for the past six consecutive months. The number of jobs grew by 28,400 over the year.

Workers’ increasing influence: A record 4.5 million Americans quit or changed jobs in November. Many quit going to higher-paying jobs, better benefits, and more flexible jobs. In Florida, the percentage of workers quitting to leave for better jobs doubled over the prior year.

Wages increase: Employers competing to fill jobs from a decreasing pool of applicants continued to raise wages to attract talent. Wage growth in the U.S. 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 increased to between $14 and $16 hourly as the “de facto minimum.”

Creative hiring/recruiting:  Besides raising wages and offering signing/retention bonuses, employers offered perks such as flexible work schedules, 4-day work weeks, full or part-time work from home, child care and other benefits. CareerSource expanded the local jobs pipeline by hosting/participating in 168 in-person and virtual hiring events that attracted 66 local employers and over 2,000 job candidates. 

Growth in remote, hybrid work: The rate of remote work steadily increased. Besides eliminating commuting costs, there is reduced spending on meals, entertainment, personal services and shopping. With Omicron, many organizations are delaying return-to-work plans and allowing staff to work from home at least a couple of days a week.

Growth in automation: When massive layoffs followed the pandemic strike, many employers were forced to operate with fewer workers through automation and process improvements. The pandemic also accelerated digital transformation of business activities, eliminating many routine jobs.

Glades area employment improves:  Because of the critical service needs there, CareerSource operates a career center in Belle Glade and plays a leading role in collaborative efforts to increase employment and economic development. Last year, CareerSource held job fairs for two major area employers -- Florida Crystals and FINFROCK, the latter for their $36 million 140,000 sq. ft. facility for precast concrete manufacturing in Belle Glade that is the largest economic development project the Business Development Board says they have facilitated in the Glades in 30 years. The Florida Crystals job fair drew 22 job seekers interested in job openings for welders, mechanics and utility workers. FINFROCK offered 40 jobs at several skill levels, along with opportunities for career advancement and additional training.  During the past five program years, CareerSource helped place more than 6,400 Glades area residents into jobs and provided $1.6 million in training funds to local employers and residents.

Expanded service footprint: Besides its two career centers, CareerSource expanded its footprint to include four city libraries with CareerSource staff and 18 county libraries with trained library staff along with CareerSource recruiters at Palm Beach State College with university and adult education campuses. 

SkillUp Palm Beach County: With many residents still staying at home last summer, CareerSource launched a new online learning system called SkillUp Palm Beach County with Metrix E-Learning Systems, a leading national developer of online learning programs. SkillUp helps people learn new skills and prepare for national certifications in a number of areas. Participants can work at their own pace 24/7 from a catalog of more than 5,000 courses that teach both technical and soft skills – all at no cost.

National Recognition: The National Association of Workforce Boards awarded CareerSource Palm Beach County its 2021 Trailblazer Award honoring CareerSource as a national leader for performance, innovation, implementing systemic change and our ability to provide services during the pandemic. CareerSource was selected for this top award among more than 500 workforce boards nationwide.

State role model: CareerSource Palm Beach County began working on a pathway to create “learners to earners” to meet the requirements of Florida’s REACH (Reimagine Education And Career Help) Act that became state law this year. The program addresses accountability of education and workforce to employers to expand the pipeline of talent.  The CareerSource Learners Pathways Model garnered the attention of local industry, the Business Development Board, CareerSource Florida, and state legislators. It was formally presented in December to Florida’s Credential Review Committee for possible replication throughout the state.    

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. 

Next monthly employment reports for Florida and Palm Beach County:  State and local employment reports for Jan. and Feb. 2022 are scheduled for release, respectively, on March 14 and 25, 2022. At the beginning of each year, there is a lag in reporting Jan. and Feb. employment data as the government recalibrates historical data factoring in new population inputs and revisions to economic data, creating changes in the original statistics.


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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