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Economy / Business

Florida's Jobless Mark at Lowest Rate Since 2008


The state's jobless mark dipped slightly from 6.1 percent in September to a six-year-low of 6.0 percent in October, with the strongest growth found in education, health care and service-related fields.

The state Department of Economic Opportunity announced Friday that the number of people listed as unemployed in Florida fell by 13,000 from month to month and stood at 578,000 jobless out of a labor force of 9.6 million.

"Today’s announcement that Florida has added 32,000 private-sector jobs is great news as we continue our work to ensure that every Floridian who wants a job can get one," Gov. Rick Scott said in a prepared statement.

While the jobs-focused Scott continues to concentrate on private-sector growth, the state agency recorded an overall increase of 34,400 jobs from September to October.

State and local government jobs grew by 4,100 last month, while federal employment in Florida went down 1,700.

The state's unemployment rate is the lowest since June 2008. Florida's mark, which is above the national rate of 5.8 percent, has wavered between 6.2 percent and 6.3 percent most of this year.

Over the past year, the state has recorded job gains in 19 of the 22 metro areas, topped by 3.5 percent growth in both the Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall and Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford regions.

Only the metro areas dominated by Ocala and Panama City have lost jobs, showing about 1 percent drops in employment.

Statewide, the fields adding the most workers last month were in areas of education and health services and hospitality and food services. Growth also continued to be recorded in retail, construction, technical, and waste services, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity numbers.

Meanwhile, insurance, financial activities, transportation and utilities recorded declines in workers from September to October.

Across Florida, the lowest county unemployment rates continued to come from the Florida Keys and parts of the Panhandle.

Monroe County held the lowest monthly jobless mark in October, down to 3.6 percent from 3.7 percent in September.

Walton County in Northwest Florida remained at 3.9 percent, while nearby Okaloosa County dipped from 4.6 percent to 4.5 percent.

Many of the counties with the lowest unemployment rates were those with relatively high proportions of state and federal government employees.

Southwest Florida's Hendry County, while falling from 12 percent in September to 10.5 percent in October, continued to hold the state's highest unemployment rate.

Flagler, in Northeast Florida, was the next highest, at 8.2 percent.

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