Flagler County’s high unemployment rate — second highest in the state as of January, according to information released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity — isn’t as much of a problem as it appears, according to the county’s economic development director.
“It’s one of the few cases you see a positive when you see an unemployment rate go up. Nothing to panic over," Flagler County Economic Development Director Helga Van Eckert said in a presentation at a county commission meeting Monday, March 17.
The county's 9.3% unemployment rate is in part a result of an increasing number of jobs enticing more people into the county, she said.
“It’s actually gone up in a good way: We’ve created more jobs in this period,” she said. “What happens when you have an increase in jobs is that there are more people who are positive about the workforce, so there are more people joining the workforce. So our workforce increased by one whole percent.”
Overall, Van Eckert said, the county’s unemployment rate has dropped steadily month after month.
Van Eckert’s remarks came in the context of a presentation about the strategic goals of the Flagler County Economic Opportunity Advisory Council, which set out an economic development growth strategy last April and has created a new, revised one for this year.
Major elements of the plan include attending industry conferences, advertising in trade magazines, identifying niche markets, promoting internships and apprenticeships, adopting a county social media policy and using social media, and partnering with local hotels to hold trade shows.