JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

After three months of flat job grown, Florida's unemployment rate in August drops to 7 percent -- below the national average of 7.3 percent.

The state of Florida released new numbers on Friday showing that the state's unemployment rate dropped .1 percent last month.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity now estimates an estimated 656,000 people are out of work and actively working for jobs in the state.

The jobless rate in most Northeast Florida counties declined at a faster rate than the state average, with Alachua, Baker and Putnam counties improving by 0.6 percent. Bradford, Columbia, Flagler, Nassau and St. Johns counties' unemployment rates each dropped by 0.4 percent.

Despite the better numbers in Flagler and Putnam counties, they still are among the top five Florida counties for unemployment.  Alachua and St. Johns counties had among the six lowest jobless rates in the state. (See county-by-county statistics in table at end of this article.)

Gov. Rick Scott has used the state's dropping unemployment rate as part of his re-election pitch for next year.

"Since December 2010, the unemployment rate has dropped 4.1 percentage points and Florida has created 365,500 new private sector jobs," Scott said in a statement. "This is evidence that our pro-growth and business friendly policies are working."

State economists, however, released an analysis this summer showing a reason for the unemployment decline has been people leaving the labor force or delaying their search for a job. A separate survey showed that the state actually lost nearly 5,000 jobs last month after months of positive job growth.
    
California and New York, by contrast, added around 30,000 jobs last month.

Nationally, the median household income was $51,371 in 2012. Of the nation's 10 most populous states, Florida's median household income was the lowest: $45,000.

August 2013July 2013August 2012
Alachua County 5.4%6.0%6.9%
Baker County6.2%6.8%7.6%
Bradford County5.6%6.0%7.2%
Clay County5.9%6.1%7.6%
Columbia County6.6%7.0%8.3%
Duval County7.4%7.7%9.4%
Flagler County10.1%10.5%11.8%
Nassau County5.6%6.0%7.7%
Putnam County9.4%10.0%11.7%
St. Johns County 5.2%5.6%6.7%
Union County5.9%6.4%7.5%