Unemployment rate down as new shops and restaurants come to Bay County

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The already declining unemployment rate in Bay County is getting an extra push down with the arrival of new shops and restaurants.

"We literally have hundreds of jobs available each week," CareerSource Gulf Coast Director of Workforce Services Lee Ellzey said.

At this time last year, the unemployment rate in Bay County was 4.8 percent. Now, it's dropped to four percent.

"Four percent of our individuals who are able to work and are looking for work are currently unemployed, which is an incredibly low number," Ellzey said.

The decline in unemployment is expected to get even lower as new shops and restaurants such as Cracker Barrel, Panda Express, and Steak and Shake make their way to Panama City.

"We're thinking that based on some current conservative estimates that roughly 350 jobs will come out of that first phase," Planning & Economic Development Director Mike Lane said.

A new Lucky's Market, coming to 23rd Street, is expected to bring an additional 100 jobs and a new Home Goods is predicted to add another 60.

"Job openings today pretty much run the entire gamut of everything from retail positions to construction," Ellzey said.

While construction is still underway for the new shops, city officials say now is the time to apply.

"I expect that they'll be hiring sometime between now and the first of the year so that they will be able to open the first quarter of next year," Lane said.

Representatives from CareerSource Gulf Coast say applying for jobs can be intimidating, but help is always available.

The organization will be hosting a job fair on Wednesday, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the CareerSource building in Bay County.

Companies at the event will be looking for construction carpenters, insulation installers and garage door installers. Click on the link to the CareerSource website on the top right section of this screen for more information.