Florida's unemployment rate unchanged in August

Led by St. Johns' 6.7%, jobless rate drops in every NE Florida county

Published On: Sep 21 2012 12:15:21 PM EDT   Updated On: Sep 21 2012 02:23:35 PM EDT

Florida's unemployment rate in August remains at 8.8 percent for a second consecutive month, with state labor officials reporting there are 818,000 Floridians who remain jobless.

While the state's rate has fallen half a percentage point in recent months, it remains 0.7 percentage higher than the national average of 8.1 percent.

The rate in every northeast Florida county dropped last month, although Jacksonville's jobless rate remains well above than the state average.

Duval County's rate went from 9.8 percent to 9.4 percent in August; Clay County's rate dropped 0.5 to 7.7 percent; and St. Johns County's rate dropped to the fifth lowest rate in Florida: 6.7 percent. (Scroll to bottom of story to see a table of the unemployment rate in all northeast Florida counties.)

Monroe County in extreme South Florida had the lowest unemployment rate in August at 5 percent. Hendry County in southwest Florida had the highest at 15.3 percent.  Flagler County has the second highest rate in the state: 12.4 percent.

Jobs are the centerpiece of Gov. Rick Scott's administration. The first-term Republican came into office on a promise of creating 700,000 new jobs.

This report shows there were 77,000 more jobs in the state in August than one year earlier.

"The month of August showed that 28,000 more Floridians found employment in the private sector and are able to provide for their families," Scott said in a prepared statement. "This increase in new jobs is proving that the decisions we’re making here in Florida are pointing our state in the right direction."

The state got some bad news on the jobs front earlier in the week when American Airlines announced that it was eliminating 1,400 jobs in Florida.

In August, the Legislature's Office of Economic and Demographic Research released an economic analysis that attributed a large portion of Florida's falling unemployment rate –- about 70 percent –- to a reduction in the labor force and not to people getting back to work.

A Florida International University study released earlier this month reported that Florida in 2011 led the nation in the number of long-term unemployed, with 53 percent of jobless workers still looking for work after six months compared to 43 percent nationwide.

Scott's chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, speaking Friday morning at the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists meeting in Jacksonville, said Scott is focused more on the number of jobs created in the state than in small percentage changes in the rate month-to-month.

"There are 150,000 Floridians who today have jobs who didn't have them" a year ago, Hollingsworth said. "He's proud of that 150,000 ... The job creation is what he's focused on."

August 2012 July 2011    August 2011 
Alachua County    7.1%7.7%8.3%
Baker County7.5%7.9%10.0%
Bradford County7.3%7.9%9.2%
Clay County7.7%8.2%9.3%
Columbia County8.2%8.7%10.2%
Duval County9.4%9.8%11.4%
Flagler County12.4%12.7%14.7%
Nassau County7.7%8.1%9.2%
Putnam County11.2%11.9%12.3%
St. Johns County    6.7%7.2%8.6%
Union County7.3%7.9%8.7%
State of Florida8.8%8.8%10.5%
United States8.1%8.3%9.1%