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Holidays Arrive with Florida's Lowest Jobless Mark in Four Years

December 20, 2012 - 6:00pm

Heading toward the end-of-the-year holidays, Floridas unemployment hit 8.1 percent in November, down 0.4 percentage points from October and marking the lowest number the Sunshine State has seen since November 2008.

The latest numbers from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity estimate that 760,000 Floridians remain jobless from a work force of 9.34 million.

Floridas rate, while still lagging behind the national jobless rate of 7.7 percent, is 2 percentage points lower than where the state was one year ago.

The governors office highlighted the drop as being tied for the largest month-to-month drop in 20 years and continued vindication for the pro-business stance of state leaders.

For many of Floridas families during this holiday season there could be no greater gift than a regular paycheck, Gov. Rick Scott stated in a release.

Floridas economy continues to improve as evidenced by the more than 24,000 Floridians that filled private-sector jobs created in November, for one of the largest over-the-month rate declines in more than 20 years. Were now over 200,000 private-sector jobs created in the two years since I took office, with the largest drop in unemployment in the country.

More people are moving here, more businesses are expanding, our home prices are recovering and more people are pursuing the careers of their dreams. We have more work to do, but Florida is clearly on the right track for greater job creation," the governor said.

With the biggest gains coming in the leisure and hospitality fields, Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, has the lowest unemployment at 4.7 percent.The next lowest were Walton (5.5 percent) and Okaloosa (5.9 percent), both housing U.S. Air Force bases.

The landlocked and agriculture-dependent Hendry County in Southwest Florida had the highest unemployment rate, at 11.6 percent.

Other counties still in double digits include Flagler County (11.4 percent), St. Lucie County (10.5 percent), Putnam County (10.3 percent), and Madison County (10.2 percent).

Jobs report highlights from the governor's office and Department of Economic Opportunity:

More Jobs Being Created

Florida job postings increased sharply in November 2012 compared to the previous November by 29,522 (an increase of 12.4 percent), for a total of 267,310 openings (seasonally-adjusted) according to the Help Wanted OnLine data series from the Conference Board.

Florida has experienced positive annual job growth now for 28 consecutive months.

Floridas job growth month-to-month has been positive for 14 of the last 17 months.

Florida is expected to create more than 900,000 new jobs by 2018, according to the Florida Economic Estimating Conference.

The number of available online job openings in STEM-related (sciences, technology, engineering, and math) fields in Florida has sharply increased since last year, up 13.9 percent, for a total of 65,825 postings in November 2012.

Unemployment Continues to Decline

Floridas unemployment rate has now declined year-over-year for 24 consecutive months.

Initial claims for re-employment assistance benefits were down by 7.6 percent from one year ago while continued claims were down from an average of 553,000 in December 2010 to 279,164 for the week ending Dec. 15, a 50 percent decrease.

Home Sales Robust

Florida housing starts were up over the year in November (the most recent month available) by 60.2 percent and median home prices were up 11.2 percent over the year.

Home sales remain robust as the backlog of existing homes on the market is down by 41 percent from November 2011 (Florida Realtors).

Economic Growth Trends Up Across State

A U.S. Census Survey reported that Florida experienced an influx of people moving into the state, with two of the top ten single destination moves, New-York-to-Florida (+59,288) and Georgia-to-Florida migrations (+38,658). Florida also led the nation in migrations from Puerto Rico with a net total of almost 15,000.

Florida is running a trade surplus of over $24 billion with $86.8 billion in exports and $62.4 billion in imports in 2011, up from $73.1 billion in exports in 2010 and $53.2 billion in imports in 2010.

Consumer Confidence High

Consumer confidence in Florida is near a five-year high, according to the University of Floridas Consumer Confidence Index.

Workforce Boards Assisting in Employment:

In November, the states 24 Regional Workforce Boards reported 46,000 Floridians placed in jobs.

An individual who receives employment and training assistance through a One-Stop Career Center and finds a job within 180 days is deemed a placement and may be reported by a regional workforce board. Of these individuals 14,211 previously received re-employment assistance. Since January, more than 383,000 Floridians were placed in jobs, with nearly 98,000 former claimants finding employment.

Reach Jim Turner at or at (772) 215-9889.

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