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Florida unemployment rate holds steady

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida's unemployment rate held at 3.6 percent from October to November, according to numbers released Friday by the state Department of Economic Opportunity.

The estimated jobless mark, representing a 10-year low, indicates 369,000 Floridians were out of work in November from a workforce of 10.1 million, figures nearly identical to October.

“We are seeing a lot of jobs in the construction industry,” said Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Cissy Proctor. “This is partly due to Hurricane Irma, and the long-term recovery that we are seeing all across the state right now.”

Hurricane Irma caused widespread damage in September, and the state estimated a 6,200 increase in November in construction jobs, while leisure and hospitality jobs grew by 1,800. Other big November fields were trade, transportation and utilities, up 5,200, and financial activities, with a 5,200 increase. The state also reported a drop of 5,700 professional and business service jobs, while government jobs were down by 800, of which 700 were on the federal level.

Florida's jobless rate is better than the national mark of 4.1 percent, which also remained unchanged in the month-to-month comparison.

Monroe County, where Irma made initial landfall, showed a post-storm rebound in November. After the storm, Monroe County lost its hold on the lowest unemployment rate in the state, but in the November numbers, it inched its way back, with a 3.2 percent jobless mark. Monroe County trailed only St. Johns County's 3.0 percent and Okaloosa County's 3.1 percent.

Walton and Wakulla counties are also at 3.2 percent. After Irma, Monroe County's jobless rate had jumped to 3.6 percent.

Hendry and Hardee counties, which include inland, agriculture-dependent areas hit hard by Irma, continue to hold the state's highest unemployment marks at 7.3 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively.