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Tampa Bay region adds 31,000 jobs in past year, unemployment drops to 5.4%

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday that the Tampa area added 31,800 jobs between July 2014 and July 2015, causing a 1.1 percentage-point drop in the region’s unemployment.

“With the second-highest number of jobs of all areas in the state last month, the Tampa economy continues to thrive,” Scott said in the announcement. “We will keep working to cut taxes and grow opportunities to make Florida the global destination for jobs.”

The tourism industry added 14,400 jobs during the 12-month period on the back of record tourism numbers over the past year. The education and healthcare industries added 6,800 jobs, while the trade, transportation and utilities sector saw a gain of 5,500 jobs year over year. The gains put the region at 5.4 percent unemployment for July, which matches the state rate.

Earlier this week, Scott announced an incentive deal with Tampa Tank, Inc. & Florida Structural Steel to bring 108 jobs to the region, though the jobs outlook hasn’t been all roses for him. During an Enterprise Florida board meeting Thursday, the governor called out the Legislature for underfunding his economic incentive priorities and claimed the state would “not be able to get deals done going forward” without more money.

“We can’t always just rely on tourism and home sales and construction for our economy,” Scott said. “I don’t want to go through another recession where we lose 800,000 some jobs.”

Scott wanted $85 million in economic incentive money in the 2015-16 budget, but only ended up with about $43 million. The figure has seen a steep decline over the past two sessions – the Legislature gave Scott about $102 million to work with in 2013-14 and $71 million last session, though lawmakers recently noted the state hasn’t spent all the incentive money it has been allocated in past state budgets.

The Friday announcement also highlighted a gain of 917,400 private sector jobs since December 2010, though the figure doesn’t factor in the drop in state employees. In 2010, Scott pushed his plan to add 700,000 jobs in seven years on top of regular job growth, which state economists pegged at about 1 million jobs added by 2017.

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Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

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