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Florida unemployment rate steady at 4.7 percent

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Florida’s unemployment rate held steady at 4.7 percent in July, despite the creation of 26,500 new private-sector jobs, state officials announced Friday. Out of a labor force of more than 9.7 million Floridians, 456,000 could not find work.

Gov. Rick Scott noted that July marked the 52nd consecutive month that Florida job growth outpaced the national level, which grew by 1.9 percent compared to 3.3 percent for the state. Florida created 135,900 new jobs thus far this year, he said, and 1.16 million jobs since December 2010, before Scott took office.

“Florida’s private sector job growth rate has also outpaced the nation for more than four years, and we are clearly sending a message across the country that our state is the best place for businesses and families to succeed,” Scott said in a written statement. “We will continue to do all we can to support job creators so Florida can become first in nation for jobs.” 

The national unemployment rate in July was 4.9 percent.

Additionally, officials revised June’s employment number to reflect 13,400 previously uncounted jobs.

“Last month was even better than reported and this month shows strong growth,” said Erin Gillespie, a spokeswoman for the department. “That’s good news as far as we’re concerned.”

Florida’s seasonally adjusted nonagricultural employment was nearly 8.36 million in July, according to data released by the state Department of Economic Opportunity. Meanwhile, June’s employment number were revised upwards to document 13,400 new jobs.

You’ll find the agency’s jobs report here, including breakdowns by economic sector, county and metropolitan area. 

The professional and business services sectors gained the most, with 12,100 new jobs during July. Education and health services followed with 4,900 jobs and leisure and hospitality produced 4,500 last month.

The only sector that lost jobs was information, which saw 2,300 few jobs for a 1.7 percent decline.

The numbers are “consistent with how the job numbers have been going this year,” said Robert Weissert, executive vice president for Florida TaxWatch. “Florida’s recovery is definitely back on.”

The three leading sectors traditionally have been “the three legs of Florida’s economy,” he said.

At 3.3 percent, Monroe County registered the lowest unemployment rate, followed by St. Johns County with 3.8 percent. Lafayette and Okaloosa counties tied for third place with 4.1 percent each.

Hendry County posted the highest unemployment rate, at 11.7 percent. Following it were Hardee County at 7.6 percent and Citrus and Highlands counties, tied at 7.3 percent.

Each of Florida 24 metro areas gained jobs compared to the same point in 2015.

Leading the pack were Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford with a 47,400 jobs gain, or 4.1 percent; Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater with 37,700 new jobs, or 3 percent; and F. Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach with 36,000 new jobs, or 4.6 percent.

The government sector accounted for more than 1 million jobs—137,200 with the federal government, 500 fewer than during June; 210,100 with the state, up by 1,200 or 0.6 percent; and 751,400 with local governments, up by 900 or 0.1 percent.

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.

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