Florida unemployment drops to 2008 level

Jobless rate increases in Jacksonville, most northeast Florida counties


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The unemployment rate in Florida dipped slightly in January to 7.8 percent, putting it below the national jobless rate for the first time since January of 2008. The national unemployment rate in January was 7.9 percent. Florida's jobless rate dropped from 7.9 percent in December.

But the newest jobs report shows the number of people seeking jobs went up in all but two northeast Florida counties, and the rate for the Jacksonville metropolitan statistical area went up from 7.3 in December to 7.5 in January. (County-by-county breakdown at bottom of this article.)

Statewide, the January rate was down slightly from the revised December rate of 7.9 percent and was 1.4 percentage points lower than the year-ago rate of 9.2 percent. There were 740,000 jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 9,422,000.

The trade, transportation and utility industries gaining the most jobs in Florida -- some 35,500 -- over the past 12 months. 

A tourism rebound is also starting to be evident. The hospitality industry continued to come back in January, with 3.5 percent growth in job creation. Construction was slightly down month-to-month, but year-over-year the building industry is up 7 percent.

"Everything we do is geared toward job creation," Gov. Rick Scott said. "Today we have more proof that it's working. We have added more than 280,000 private-sector jobs over the last two years, and as we continue to focus on greater economic growth, we will see even more jobs created."

While Alachua and St. Johns have among the lowest rates out of Florida's 67 counties, the unemployment rate remains in double digits in Flagler and Putnam counties, giving them among the highest rates in the state.

January 2013December 2012January 2012
Alachua County6.0%5.9%7.1%
Baker County7.3%6.8%9.7%
Bradford County6.6%6.5%8.0%
Clay County6.9%6.8%8.5%
Columbia County7.4%7.4%8.8%
Duval County8.0%7.8%9.4%
Flagler County11.0%10.8%12.9%
Nassau County7.3%7.1%8.8%
Putnam County10.9%10.6%11.9%
St. Johns County6.2%6.2%7.9%
Union County6.7%6.6%7.9%