Florida labor leaders are touting the work of the state’s regional workforce boards as unemployment fell to its lowest mark since January 2009.
Florida’s unemployment stood at 8.7 percent, down from 9 percent a month earlier, according to figures released Friday from the state Department of Economic Opportunity.
The latest figures estimate that 804,000 Floridians were listed as jobless last month, down from 836,000 in March, marking the 10th consecutive month the rate has declined.
“This continued drop in Florida’s unemployment rate is proving our economy is on the path to recovery and Floridians are getting back to work,” Gov. Rick Scott declared in a release.
“With Florida being ranked as one of the top two states for business in the nation, employers are sure to continue expanding and moving to Florida, creating jobs that help us ensure this pattern will continue.”
The monthly total is 1.9 percent lower than where the state was a year ago.
However, while the number of jobs in the state was 52,600 in the past year, the seasonally adjusted total for April is actually down 2,700, less than 0.1 percent in the past month.
Florida still lags behind the nation, which holds at an 8.1 percent unemployment rate.
The state Department of Economic Opportunity highlighted the efforts of the 24 regional workforce boards that placed nearly 30,000 Floridians in jobs last month, of which 6,754 were receiving unemployment compensation as the month began.
Since the start of the year, the workforce boards have reported finding positions for 124,000, of which about one in five was receiving jobless benefits at the time they found new employment.
The average time on unemployment is currently 48.6 weeks.
Many of the workforce jobs landed in office jobs deemed professional and business services.
Other areas with growth continue to be: ambulatory health care services; clothing and accessory stores; food services and drinking places; real estate; fabricated metal product manufacturing; and personal and laundry services.
Construction, down 24,500 jobs, and government, down 11,800 positions mostly in state government, continued to have the biggest drops in the past year.
“We will continue collaborating with our partners at Enterprise Florida and Workforce Florida to create a re-employment system that produces the best work force in the nation to support Florida’s growing businesses,” DEO Executive Director Hunting F. Deutsch stated in a release.
There are approximately 345,000 people currently claiming unemployment benefits in Florida, down from a peak of 735,000 in February 2010.
The numbers don’t include 91,000 Floridians listed as discouraged, individuals no longer eligible for employment benefits and in many cases no longer seeking employment.
If they were included, the state’s monthly unemployment mark would stand at 9.6 percent
The number of jobs advertised online stood at 243,000 in April 2012, up nearly 7,000 since March.
State records reported the regions with the largest job gains continue to be Miami-Miami Beach, Tampa-St. Petersburg and Orlando.
Meanwhile, Pensacola, Gainesville, Port St. Lucie and Daytona Beach remain among the areas that have had the most problems attracting new employment.
Across Florida, counties that have relied heavily on government jobs have held the lowest unemployment marks: 4.8 percent in Monroe County; 5.2 percent in Walton County; 5.7 percent in Okaloosa; and 6.1 percent in Alachua County.
The highest marks remain in counties that have seen big drops in information, government and construction jobs: 11.6 percent in Flagler County (down from 12.2 percent in February); 10.8 percent in Hernando County; and 10.7 percent in St. Lucie and Hendry counties.
Overall, Florida counties with double-digit unemployment rates in April are down from 10 in March.
Reach Jim Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (772) 215-9889.