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Florida unemployment rate remains steady

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Gov. Rick Scott continues to preach from the Book of Low Taxation while a choir of number crunchers sings about more people going to work. The Florida jobless rate remained unchanged in January at 5.7 percent, above the national rate of 5.5 percent but showing an increase of 13,900 jobs compared to December and 274,000 more jobs than a year ago, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity.

“Florida’s exceptional economic turnaround makes it clear that we are enacting policies to help businesses grow and giving families opportunities to achieve their dreams in Florida,” said Scott.

 The DEO report is here.

Scott released a statement counting 800,000 new jobs created in Florida since his election in 2010. Others dispute his calculation noting many of the jobs are the natural occurrence of an economy recovering from a recession. Scott though has been singing the same tune since he filed to run for governor in June 2010 – to paraphrase, capital flows to where it is welcome.

Scott’s policies tilt toward lower taxation, less government spending and fewer regulations. The state’s unemployment rate is at the lowest since April of 2008 and down 2 percent since 2013.

Jesse Panuccio, DEO’s executive director, said the January jobs report shows the Scott approach is working.

“Over the last four years, Florida economic resurgence has resulted in a steadily falling unemployment rate, robust private-sector job growth, a growing labor force, record job demand and rising consumer sentiment,” said Panuccio.

His critics point out that Scott had the fortune to come into office when the state and nation were beginning to recover from the Great Recession. They note that growth in the national economy and other factors out of the control of any one governor or state are contributing factors to job creation.

Scott, of course, sees things differently and points to his economic program and the jobs data and uses them to tell his Florida success story on trade missions to other states in search of jobs.

“We will keep working to cut taxes and make Florida the global destination for jobs,” said Scott. “I also look forward to traveling to California next month to tell shippers that Florida is the best place for business and why they should move here.”

During the past 12 months, the industry adding the most jobs has been professional and business services; posting a 5.1 percent increase of 58,700 new positions.

Increased hiring in other industries in January to January comparison showed the leisure and hospitality sector adding 53,500 jobs, a 5 percent increase.

Private education and health services, 43,100 jobs – a 3.8 percent increase; construction up 8.3 percent – 31,800 jobs; financial activities up 13,700 jobs and manufacturing increased by 2,500 jobs or a 0.8 percent increase.

The only major industry that lost jobs over the year was information, losing 900 jobs or a 0.7 decrease.

Monroe County had the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.1 percent, followed by St. Johns County at 4.4 and Wakulla County at 4.9 percent.

Putnam County had the highest unemployment rate at 8.4 percent, followed by Hendry County at 8.3 percent and Citrus County at 8.1 percent.

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