JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Florida labor officials say the state's unemployment dropped to its lowest mark in nearly four years in October, with 8.5 percent of the workforce still hunting for jobs.

Although the figure is an improvement from September's 8.7 percent unemployment in Florida, it remains 0.6 percent higher than the national average of 7.9 percent.

The jobless rate in every northeast Florida county dropped by at least 0.5 percent over the previous month, with Alachua and St. Johns counties having among the lowest rates in the state.  On the other end of the scale, Flagler and Putnam counties continue to have among the highest unemployment rates in the Florida. (See county-by-county rate comparison at bottom of this article)

It is Florida's first unemployment figures since President Barack Obama was re-elected last week.

Unemployment and job creation were a major part of the debate between Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, who had promised to create 12 million new jobs if elected. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has been quick to boast of improvements in the state's unemployment numbers to the chagrin of Republicans anxious to blame Obama for high unemployment.

"In October, 12,100 more Floridians found employment in the private sector and the incomes that allow them to provide for their families, particularly with the holidays approaching," Scott said in a statement Friday morning. "There is still more work that needs to be done, but I'm confident we're on the right path."

October 2012September 2012October 2011
Alachua County6.2%6.8%7.4%
Baker County6.7%7.4%10.0%
Bradford County6.7%7.2%8.5%
Clay County7.1%7.6%8.9%
Columbia County7.5%8.0%9.5%
Duval County8.2%8.7%10.2%
Flagler County11.3%12.0%13.8%
Nassau County7.4%7.9%9.2%
Putnam County10.3%10.8%11.8%
St. Johns County 6.4%6.9%8.5%
Union County6.5%7.0%8.0%
Florida8.5%8.7%10.2%
United States7.9%7.8%8.9%