Florida's unemployment rate dropped to 7.5 percent in March, the lowest it has been since fall of 2008, continuing a recovery from joblessness that reached 12 percent at its peak in late 2010.
The March rate was down from a revised 7.8 percent in February and down from 8.9 percent a year ago.
The drop was even more significant in Northeast Florida, led by a full 1-pount drop in Nassau County's unemployment rate, and improvement of a half-point or more in Baker, Clay, Duval and Putnam counties. The overall jobless rate for the Jacksonville metropolitan area was 6.5 percent in March. (See county-by-county breakdown at end of this story.)
Florida also remained below the most recent figure for national employment, a key benchmark that shows Florida's recovery may finally be speeding up after months of lagging behind the nation as a whole.
In addition to being good news for job seekers, the latest data allow Gov. Rick Scott to claim his effort to put the state back to work - the primary thing he pledged to do when running for governor in 2010 - is working.
"In a little over two years since I’ve taken office, we’ve created more than 320,000 private sector jobs – and we are now closing in on the halfway point to our goal of creating 700,000 jobs in seven years," Scott said in a release. "These numbers prove that it's working in Florida and our families have opportunities to live their version of the American Dream in the Sunshine State. In Florida, our economy is turning around because we focus every day on creating new jobs for our families."
The unemployment rate in the nation as a whole in March was 7.6 percent.
Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, continued to have the lowest jobless rate in the state at 3.8 percent, while Hendry County remained at 10 percent unemployment, worst in the state.
|March 2013||February 2013||March 2012|
|St. Johns County||5.3%||5.8%||7.3%|