Bay County Unemployment Update

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Some bad news, and some good news!  First, the bad:

The News Herald reported Sunday that local unemployment was outpacing job growth in the county.  While we are seeing a net gain in available jobs (+600 over the past year), our workforce has also grown, and grown at a higher rate.  Once the final numbers are in, I expect to see the 2010 unemployment rate at about 10%.  Thats a far cry from the 3% we saw back in 2006.  And as I have said before, unemployed people don’t buy houses…so we can expect to see continued lethargy in the market until those unemployment numbers come down.

The article goes on to state that most of our job growth has come from existing businesses, and that the Workforce Board and the Bay County Economic Development Alliance are trying to recruit new businesses to the area…something I think we really need.

You can find the full News Herald article here.

Now the good news:

A few days later, the News Herald featured an article titled “Ripple Effect of Vision Airlines could produce 4200 jobs”.  Click here for the full article.  The article explained that Vision Airlines choosing the Northwest Florida Regional Airport (VPS) in Ft. Walton Beach as it’s hub would create a significant amount of job growth in the area.  To be sure, most of these jobs will be in Okaloosa County, there will almost certainly be some spillover to Bay.

Some might think that an aggressive new airline at VPS would have a negative effect on Bay County, potentially siphoning business away from our airport.  But the article cites Gerry Clemons, chairman of the Airport Authority, as stating that Vision operates mainly in markets not served by Delta and Southwest, so there should be little direct competition.

I tend to agree with Mr. Clemons.  Cheap fares to VPS and ECP can’t be bad things for the area, and ecomonic activity in Okaloosa county will almost certainly have a positive impact on Bay County.  And 4200 jobs in the area just can’t be a bad thing!

I would also imagine that Vision’s low fares will put some downward pressure on flights to the markets where they overlap with Delta and Southwest, such as Atlanta.  Remember when it used to cost $450 to fly to ATL?  Those prices will probably settle down to less than $200 round trip.

Braves game, anyone?

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