Fla.'s Nov. unemployment rate drops to 8.1 percent

Northeast Florida counties rates drop 1.9% from a year ago

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida's unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest level in four years, while the northeast Florida region has seen a 1.9 percent unemployment rate drop from a year ago.

State officials said on Friday that the November rate was 8.1 percent. That's down by 0.4 percentage point from October. And it's the lowest rate since November 2008, when Florida had 7.8 percent jobless rate.

That still left 760,000 Floridians out of work and the state's rate again topped the national figure, which was 7.7 percent for November.

Florida, though, has been steadily closing the gap in recent months.

Since December 2010, the state's unemployment rate has dropped 3.0 percentage points and 202,500 private sector jobs have been created.

That's been good news for Gov. Rick Scott, who has made job creation the hallmark of his administration.

"For many of Florida's families during this holiday season there could be no greater gift than a regular paycheck," Gov. Rick Scott said in a news release.

Polls, though, show the Republican governor's job approval rate still lagging below the 40 percent level.

As for northeast Florida, Scott said that in November, the Jacksonville Metropolitan Statistical Area, consisting of Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties, continued to experience declines in its unemployment rate over the year, while the metro area's hiring and housing outlook remained bright.

The November unemployment rate for the region of 7.6 percent dropped 1.9 percentage points from last November's rate of 9.5 percent, while the drop since December 2010 is 2.7 percentage points from 10.3 percent to 7.6 percent.

Among the five counties that comprise the region, Baker County led the way in over-the-year declines with a decrease of 3.2 percentage points, going from 10.1 percent to 6.9 percent, while the other four counties all experienced decreases of 1.9 percentage points. Clay County's rate went from 8.8 percent to 6.9 percent, Duval County dropped from 10.0 percent to 8.1 percent, Nassau County's rate declined from 9.0 percent to 7.1 percent, and St. Johns County's rate went from 8.4 percent to 6.5 percent.

In addition to the drop in its unemployment rate, the Jacksonville MSA ranked fourth in the state for gains in total nonagricultural employment over the year with an increase of 5,400 jobs. The Jacksonville MSA added the most jobs over the year in financial activities with 2,000 jobs.

Housing starts were up in the Jacksonville MSA in October (the latest available data) both over the month (+19.2 percent) and over the year (+101.3 percent). Also, the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey for the first quarter of 2013 indicated that Jacksonville area employers expect to continue hiring.

To view the November monthly employment data, click here.

Copyright 2012 by News4Jax.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.