Florida unemployment drops to 6.7%

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Florida's unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent in October, down from 7.0 percent in August, the state Department of Economic Opportunity announced Friday morning.

This is the lowest that the state's unemployment rate has been since August 2008. There are an estimated 625,000 people out of work in the state.

Florida's unemployment rate is below the national rate of 7.3 percent.

Federal statistics show that Florida had one of the largest growth in jobs across the nation. The federal government reported that the state added nearly 45,000 jobs last month.

The latest numbers also show that the state's overall labor force grew between August and October. In the past a reason for the unemployment decline has been people leaving the labor force.

The Jacksonville Metropolitan Statistical Area was among the top five metro areas in the state for job growth in October 2013, adding 11,200 new jobs. The unemployment rate in northeast Florida declined by 1.6 percentage points over the year, from 7.6 percent in October 2012 to 6.0 percent in October 2013.

The jobless rate in St. Johns and Alachua counties dropped below 5 percent for the first time in many years. (See full table of unemployment rate in area counties at bottom of this article.)

Florida had the biggest job gains of the 28 states where the unemployment rate fell last month.  Hiring has picked up nationwide, according to the government's October jobs report released earlier this month.

Florida gained 44,600 jobs. The biggest gains were in both better-paying and lower-paying fields. Most of the gains were in construction; hotels, restaurants and entertainment; and in the professional services category, which includes accountants, engineers and temporary workers.

North Dakota had the lowest jobless rate in the nation, at 2.7 percent, down from 2.8 percent a month earlier. South Dakota reported the second-lowest rate, at 3.7 percent, followed by Nebraska, with 3.9 percent.

October 2013 September 2013 October 2012   
Alachua County4.7%5.2%6.0%
Baker County5.7%6.2%6.7%
Bradford County 5.3%5.5%6.5%
Clay County5.7%5.9%7.0%
Columbia County 6.1%6.4%7.5%
Duval County6.4%6.8%8.1%
Flagler County9.4%9.6%10.7%
Nassau County5.5%5.8%7.3%
Putnam County8.6%8.9%10.7%
St. Johns County  4.9%5.2%6.3%
Union County5.6%5.7%6.7%

Copyright 2013 by News4Jax.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.