JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Florida's unemployment rate has remained flat for the third straight month.

State officials announced Friday that the jobless rate has remained at 7.1 percent despite 34,500 new private-sector jobs created in Florida in July.

The rate in northeast Florida counties remained relatively steady, with the rate in Jacksonville and some counties remaining higher than the state average. Other area counties, including Clay, Nassau and St. Johns, were well below the state average. (See county-by-county table at end of this article).

The state's unemployment rate remains below the national unemployment rate of 7.4 percent and has held for three months at the lowest rate Florida has seen since September 2008.

Gov. Rick Scott has used the state's unemployment rate as part of his re-election pitch for next year, saying, the state is more than halfway to promise of creating 700,000 jobs in seven years that he made in his 2010 campaign.

At a stop in Jacksonville Friday, Scott said he was encouraged that the report shows job growth in 23 of the last 25 months.

"We have more manufacturing jobs, we have more hospitality jobs, tourism is up, home prices are up home, sales are up, manufacturing is up, so were headed in the right direction," Scott said.

The Floria Department of Economic Opportunity noted that the Jacksonville metropolitan statistical area added 8,400 professional and business services jobs last month -- the most of any MSA in the state.

The latest numbers show there are 665,000 people remain out of work in Florida.

State economists released an analysis finding that many people are leaving the labor force or delaying their search for a job.

July 2013  June 2013  July 2012  
Alachua County6.0%5.9%7.5%
Baker County6.8%6.9%7.8%
Bradford County6.0%5.9%7.6%
Clay County6.1%6.1%8.1%
Columbia County7.0%6.9%8.6%
Duval County7.6%7.6%9.6%
Flagler County10.4%10.3%12.0%
Nassau County5.9%5.9%7.9%
Putnam County10.0%9.7%12.2%
St. Johns County   5.6%5.6%7.1%
Union County6.3%6.4%8.0%