Palm Beach County Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.5 Percent -- Below State, National Rates for Four Consecutive Months

West Palm Beach, Fla. (Jan. 22, 2021) – The New Year begins with some encouraging news for job seekers – Palm Beach County’s unemployment rate for December 2020 is 5.5 percent, below November’s 5.9 percent.

The county’s rate also fell below the 6.5 percent national rate and Florida’s 5.8 percent rate for the fourth consecutive month, 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). (Chart of unemployment rates for PBC and Fla. over year attached)

More good news:

  • Total nonagricultural employment in Palm Beach County increased to 610,100 in December from 601,300 in November.
  • About 60 percent of the jobs in the county have been recovered since the period of highest unemployment in 2020.
  • There are 2,740 job openings in Palm Beach County compared to less than 400 in April.
  • The county’s unemployment rate stayed below other major markets, including Miami-Dade County, Broward County and the Greater Orlando area. These areas with large numbers of theme parks, cruise ships and international flight traffic continue to be the hardest hit.
  • The Business Development Board of Palm Beach County (BDB) announced nearly 3,000 high salary jobs for Palm Beach County in 2020 with thousands more jobs in the pipeline to be announced within the next few months.  The start of 2021 is proving to be robust with the expansion of SIW Solutions (door and window manufacturing) representing 250 jobs in Boca Raton, the announced relocation of V2Techs (maritime technology) from Europe and initiatives to attract financial services companies to the county. 

“We are greatly encouraged by the steady improvements we have been experiencing, including job gains from the previous month in all top five key industry sectors,” 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. 

Among the top five key industry sectors in Palm Beach County, the Leisure and Hospitality sector had the most job gains -- +3,400 jobs.  Jobs in the Construction sector grew faster in the county than statewide over the year at +1.5 percent. 


  • Employment: 113,500
  • Jobs gained Nov. to Dec.: +2,700
  • Jobs lost over year: -4,300

Professional and business services

  • Employment: 111,100 
  • Jobs gained Nov. to Dec.: +700
  • Jobs lost over year: -4,200

Education and health services

  • Employment: 100,300
  • Jobs gained Nov. to Dec.: +700
  • Jobs lost over year: -5,800

Leisure and hospitality

  • Employment: 76,600 
  • Jobs gained Nov. to Dec.: +3,400
  • Jobs lost over year: -17,200


  • Employment: 64,000 
  • Jobs gained Nov. to Dec.: +100
  • Jobs lost over year: -3,600

The county’s year-ago unemployment rate for December was a record low 2.7 percent and the total number of jobs in the county dropped by 38,900 compared to a year ago. 

Virtual Job Fairs Scheduled for 2021

CareerSource Palm Beach County has scheduled the following virtual job fairs for the first half of 2021: 

  • TODAY – Project Impact (various jobs with 13 employers)
  • Jan. 27 – Tesla (automotive and solar energy) 
  • Feb. 17 – Professional/Business Services (finance, banking, insurance, etc.)
  • March 17 -- Aviation/Marine/Engineering/Environmental/Architecture (electrical, plumbing, HVAC, carpentry, mason, roofer, etc.)
  • April 21 – Healthcare/Life Sciences/Pharmaceutical/Medical
  • May 19 – Technology/Telecom
  • June 23 – Advanced Manufacturing
  • July 21 – Protective Services/Security

More information about these events will be available on  CareerSource held 10 virtual hiring events since March 2020 to help connect hundreds of job seekers with more than 200 area employers. 

2020 Palm Beach County Employment Year in Review

Record high, low unemployment rates: Outside of the Great Depression, the county’s record high unemployment rate reached 14.2 percent in April 2020.  The record low unemployment rate was 2.7 percent in Dec. 2019.

National employers coming to Palm Beach County: CareerSource works with new companies such as Amazon when they come to our area with rewarding opportunities for job seekers.  CareerSource is helping their newest national client – Tesla – employ people as part of a statewide initiative on Jan. 27. CareerSource also works with the Business Development Board in business relocations and expansion in the county.  

Serving clients throughout the pandemic: CareerSource pivoted to deliver more services virtually because of the COVID pandemic, some of which have been adopted statewide. Since the beginning of the pandemic, they served clients via online platforms such as virtual job fairs, webinars and webcasts as well as phone, email and social media outlets. CareerSource also worked with municipalities and non-profits to fill more than 60 temporary jobs related to helping combat the COVID pandemic in the county, spending close to $1 million in salaries supporting these jobs, including converting some of those to regular full-time employment.

Help is Here portal:  CareerSource Palm Beach County launched a ‘Help Is Here’ web portal to help prepare job seekers for new opportunities and help employers find the talent they need to rebuild and thrive.  Help Is Here is a focused public and business outreach effort to:

  • Connect job seekers and businesses to critical resources for local, personalized help
  • Develop innovative solutions to generate job recovery/retention and business continuity, driving economic recovery
  • Provide links to state and federal assistance programs.

The campaign resulted in nearly 353,000 web sessions that connected thousands of Floridians with employment and related services. The web portal can be accessed from the organization’s home page at

Launching job seeker services at libraries: During the time libraries were closed due to the pandemic, CareerSource staff conducted several virtual training programs for city and county library staff, including reemployment assistance programs, conducting a job search/interview and more. Training was followed by in-person job shadowing at the West Palm Beach career center. This partnership has expanded job seeker services countywide without the need for leasing new space.

Serving the Glades communities: CareerSource just completed an extensive renovation of their Belle Glade career center to support improved and expanded services in western Palm Beach County. While the population there is less than 3% of the county at large, about 20% of CareerSource’s budget, including 12% of training funds, goes to serving this area. During the past year they provided $128,000 in training grants to local employers and residents.

Help for the homeless: CareerSource began offering job placement and training services to the homeless population in John Prince Park in Feb. 2020. In addition, they awarded $300,000 in funding to The Lord’s Place for expanded services to the homeless and ex-offenders countywide. CareerSource has provided $2 million in funding to The Lord’s Place over the last decade to help individuals who are homeless or previously incarcerated.

Paychecks for Patriots: The first statewide virtual Paychecks for Patriots hiring events for veterans and military families took place in Nov. 2020 with the use of a virtual platform made available to the entire CareerSource Florida network by CareerSource Palm Beach County. There were nearly 34,000 virtual exhibit booth visits with nearly 2,400 jobs available with more than 600 organizations participating. There are more than 1.5 million veterans in Florida.

Looking for a New Career in the New Year? 

Looking for a new career in the New Year? CareerSource offers classes and facilities for job searches, grants for job skills training for those who qualify, career development and consulting – at no cost to you! During the past five program years, CareerSource Palm Beach County assisted more than 71,500 residents find employment ranging from entry level to executive suite, with salaries from these jobs creating $1.4 billion in annual wages. CareerSource also awarded $12.2 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. 2021 are scheduled for release in March 2021. 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 3:30 p.m. today. Please call 561.340.1061 ext. 2229 for scheduling.