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Florida jobless rate remains unchanged; Rick Scott touts job gains

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Florida’s unemployment rate remained flat in March at 5.7 percent, unchanged from February, but down .8 percent from a year ago, according to a report released Friday by the Department of Economic Opportunity.

The DEO report can be found here. It indicates there are 548,000 Floridians looking for work while another 33,000 fell out of the state labor pool compared with a month ago.

The U.S. unemployment rate is 5.5 percent and 21 states have lower unemployment rates than Florida, according to a National Conference of State Legislatures report.

Gov. Rick Scott announced the March jobless numbers during a press event at Kellstrom Defense Aerospace in Miramar. Scott’s statement focused on the 29,400 increase in private sector jobs during the month.

“Each new job is an opportunity for a Floridians to achieve their dreams, and families have benefited from more than 40 months of job growth in our state,” Scott said. “During the four years before I became governor, Florida lost over 820,000 private sector jobs. We have now gained back all the jobs that were lost and we remain focused on doing everything we can to bring more jobs and opportunities to the families in Florida.”

Five years ago during the Great Recession Florida posted a jobless rate of 11 percent with a million people out of work.

“March marked a milestone for Florida as we surpassed our all-time high for private-sector jobs in the state,” DEO Executive Director Jesse Panuccio said. “Our economy keeps adding jobs at steady clip and our economic growth outpaces the nation’s.”

During the past 12 months, the industry adding the most jobs in the state has been leisure and hospitality, a 5.1 percent, an increase of 54,800 positions.

Increased hiring in other industries in a March-to-March comparison showed trade, transportation and utilities at 3.4 percent, 54,700 positions; professional and business services at 4.3 percent with 49,600 positions; and private education and health services at 4.2 percent or 37,400 new jobs.

The only major industry that lost jobs over the year was information, losing 1,300 jobs in the past 12 months a 1 percent reduction.

Monroe County had the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.8 percent, followed by St. Johns County at 4.0 and Wakulla, Okaloosa and Alachua counties at 4.6 percent.

Putnam County had the highest unemployment rate at 8.0 percent, followed by Citrus County at 7.6 percent and Hendry and Sumter counties at 7.4 percent.

Of the 24 metro areas in the state, all 24 had over-the-year job gains in March. In the past 12 months the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metro added 50,200 jobs, a 4.6-percent jump; Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall added 42,300 jobs, a 3.9-percent jump; and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater 34,500 jobs, a 2.9 percent-increase.

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