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Florida unemployment rate at 4.8 percent in March

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida had a 4.8 percent unemployment rate in March, down from 5 percent in February, according to a report released Friday.

Gov. Rick Scott using the new numbers to push his legislative priorities.

Scott issued a statement in which he said businesses had created more than 60,000 jobs during the first three months of the year. He also called on lawmakers to provide $100 million to tourism marketer Visit Florida and to send money to the economic development agency Enterprise Florida for business incentives.

Scott has battled House Speaker Richard Corcoran for months about funding for the programs, and the House and Senate will have to resolve the issues during upcoming budget negotiations.

"Florida's economy is on a roll, and now is not the time to let up," Scott said Friday. "Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida have played a big role in growing our economy, and efforts in the Florida House to decimate these jobs programs will severely impact efforts for businesses to create jobs."

Scott said the Jacksonville area added 23,700 new private-sector jobs over the year in March. The area’s unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in March, down one-half percentage point from a year ago. In the last year, Florida businesses created 233,800 new jobs, bringing the total number of new jobs added since December 2010 to 1,353,000.

The industries with the most job growth in the Jacksonville area over the year were professional and business services, with 6,100 new jobs, and education and health services, with 5,600 new jobs. The Jacksonville area rounded out the top five metro areas in job demand, with 18,430 openings, including 4,973 openings for highly skilled, high-wage STEM occupations.