By Chris Fish
BREVARD - The Brevard County unemployment rate continues to show signs of improvement, after falling to 9.4 percent this past August, down from 9.8 in July, official said. The rate remains higher than the state average.
The statewide, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is currently at 8.8 percent, unchanged since July, according to the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast. In August 2011, the unemployment rate for the state of Florida was 10.5 percent, with the unemployment rate at 11.7 percent for Brevard County in the same month.
This is the fifth consecutive month that unemployment in Brevard County has managed to remain less than a double-digit unemployment rate, the commission reported.
"While we have had six consecutive months of single-digit unemployment on the Space Coast, there is still work to be done. But those figures are encouraging and illustrate our community's vibrancy and success in attracting and expanding business to get Space Coast workers back to work," said Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast, in an email.
Denise Beasley, communications director for Brevard Workforce, said jobseekers are now taking jobs with lower pay in Brevard, as opposed to job seekers in 2008.
"They know what the market is and will now take jobs with lower pay, while they seek the training they need to make a shift in career in order to get and maintain a good paycheck," she said. "Our success rate for job placement is high, but our customers do have to put in the effort to get results."
Ms. Weatherman said that there have been more than 1,900 jobs and $341 million in capital investment created since Oct. 1, 2011.
Numerous companies are also opening branches or expanding in Brevard County, the Economic Department reports.
In March 2012, Embraer, a Brazilian aerospace conglomerate that produces commercial, military and executive aircraft, as well as providing aeronautical services, will be opening a new research and development facility in Brevard County called The Embraer Engineering and Technology Center USA.
The center will bring a total of 200 new engineering jobs, with at least 40 of those jobs being created by the end of 2012.
The Boeing Company also announced the development of a new commercial crew vehicle at Kennedy Space Center, adding 550 jobs by 2015.
Harris Corporation announced plans to build a $100 million high-tech engineering center in Palm Bay. The six-story, 450,000-square-foot facility is predicted to create 100 new technical and support jobs and 300 construction jobs. Harrison projects an economic impact of over $1 billion.
Bertram Yacht, an iconic American yacht and boat-building brand, started relocating to a new facility in Merritt Island this past June. At full employment, the company's projected total economic impact will be more than $26.3 million. The company will draw on the Space Coast's highly skilled labor force, particularly those with experience in the marine and aerospace sectors, and create 221 new jobs in Brevard County.
Additionally, the Navy Strategic Program at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will refurbish and update a 1950s submarine missile test complex. The project estimates 100 jobs may be created within three years, and approximately 85 percent of the projected workforce from civilian contactors, including former Space Shuttle workers sourced locally.
According to the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast, Brevard County has the highest concentration of high-tech and moderately high-tech manufacturing jobs in the U.S., and it was ranked the 11th most innovative American city by Forbes in 2010.