JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Although slowly, Florida's unemployment numbers continue to improve -- and the Jacksonville area is outpacing the rest of the state for job growth.

State labor officials said Friday that the unemployment rate dipped to 8 percent in December, a small improvement from November's 8.1 percent figure.

The jobless rate across most northeast Florida counties is even lower -- 7.4 percent for the Jacksonville metropolitan area. Flagler and Putnam counties have the highest unemployment rates in the state -- 11.2 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively. St. Johns and Union counties among Florida's 10 with the lowest jobless rates.

Florida unemployment now stands at its lowest level since it was at 7.8 percent in November 2008. The state's unemployment rate fell below 10 percent for the first time in nearly three years in December 2011 and has continued to slowly improve since although 749,000 workers remain jobless.

Gov. Rick Scott, who has staked his re-election chances on creating jobs, said Friday the figures show the state is headed in the right direction.

Improving home sales, rising home values and a resilient stock market have buoyed improving consumer confidence in Florida in recent months.

December 2012November 2012December 2011
Alachua County6.1%6.3%7.5%
Baker County6.7%6.9%10.1%
Bradford County6.5%6.7%8.6%
Clay County6.8%7.0%8.5%
Columbia County7.3%7.6%9.2%
Duval County7.8%8.1%9.6%
Flagler County11.2%11.6%13.5%
Nassau County7.2%7.1%8.8%
Putnam County10.1%10.4%12.0%
St. Johns County 6.2%6.4%8.2%
Union County6.4%6.6%8.0%
Statewide8.0%8.1%9.9%