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Florida’s unemployment rate ticks up to 5% in January

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Florida’s unemployment rate ticked up in January, reaching 5 percent for the first time in a year.

The January unemployment rate marks a slight uptick from December, when state officials reported an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent. The statewide rate is higher than the national unemployment rate of 4.8 percent.

Despite the increase in the unemployment rate, Gov. Rick Scott lauded private sector employers Monday for creating more than 50,000 jobs in January.

The governor made the monthly jobs announcement at Herc Rentals in Bonita Springs, and used his appearance to once again take aim at lawmakers who voted to support a bill (HB 7005) to eliminate Enterprise Florida and a slew of other economic incentive programs.

“It makes no sense to me,” said Scott. “The House took a vote last week, and they said we don’t need Enterprise Florida anymore. That’s going to absolutely kill jobs. That’s going to kill opportunities.”

On Friday, the Florida House voted 87-28 to approve the measure, with more than half the House Democrats voting for the proposal. All of the House members who represent Lee and Collier counties voted in favor of the bill.

Scott was quick to point out that several of those members who voted for the bill attended a 2013 event announcing rental car giant Hertz would be relocating its offices to Lee County. Scott said that bringing Hertz, and later Herc Rentals, to Southwest Florida likely wouldn’t have been possible without the work of Enterprise Florida.

“We’re on a roll, this state is booming. Why would we mess this up,” said Scott. “I’m going to be out there fighting for jobs every day.”

Scott is scheduled to hold a roundtable with business and economic development leaders in Tallahassee later today, where he’ll talk about Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. The event is expected to be similar to ones he’s held elsewhere across the state, and will likely target lawmakers in the Big Bend region who supported the House measure.

The jobs report showed the professional and business services industry saw the largest year-over-year gains, adding 55,900 jobs between January 2016 and January 2017. The report also showed 23 out of the state’s 24 metro areas saw year-over-year gains, with the Orlando metropolitan area once again leading the state with 54,600 jobs during the one year period.

“With the creation of 51,500 new jobs and the second-highest job demand in the state, Orlando’s economy is booming,” said Scott in a statement. “Across the state, jobs are growing and businesses are succeeding, and we will continue to cut taxes and support initiatives that foster further economic development, so every Floridian can get a great job.”

The Tampa Bay region added 38,200 jobs between January 2016 and January 2017, while Miami metropolitan area added 31,800 jobs in the one-year period.

While the unemployment rate ticked up from December to January, the report shows it is unchanged from January 2016.

The Department of Economic Opportunity is scheduled to release February jobs numbers on March 24.

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