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News Story
Updated: 04/02/2014 08:00:02AM

State jobless rate held steady in February

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TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s jobless rate held steady at 6.2 percent in February, as Gov. Rick Scott and his administration touted the creation of 32,100 private-sector jobs during the month.

In Polk County the numbers didn’t change from January to February, remaining at 7.2 percent. But the labor force declined by 198,229 persons and the number of unemployed dropped 17,797 according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

In a brief video released by the governor’s office, Scott focused on the number of jobs created in February, the most in a single month since he’s been in office, and on the number of jobs created since the unemployment rate stood at 12 percent in December 2010, just before he took office.

“It’s a great news day. Let’s keep working,” Scott said in the video, repeating the end his 2014 campaign slogan.

The state’s unemployment rate remains below the federal rate, which increased to 6.7 percent in February from 6.6 percent.

Florida’s biggest month-to-month gains were reported in the fields of construction, retail, technical services, health care and social assistance and accommodations and food services.

Jobs in entertainment and recreation, along with transportation, warehousing and utilities, had the biggest losses.

The monthly rate — based upon estimates of the number of people employed and actively seeking employment — has now held at 6.2 percent for three straight months. Initially, the state reported the January rate at 6.1 percent, but that number was revised upward to 6.2 percent.

This is the second consecutive month the state has revised upward earlier, more positive unemployment numbers. Department of Economic Opportunity spokeswoman Jessica Sims said Friday in an email that employment numbers are revised every month as new sample data comes in, often from late respondents.

“On many occasions the revisions are so small they do not impact the unemployment rate or the direction of the data, which is why the revisions are not always noticeable,” Sims wrote.

The latest month-to-month total represents an estimated increase of 58,000 people in the state’s labor force, growing to 9.5 million, while the number out of work people grew by 5,000 to 588,000.

A year ago, the number of unemployed people was projected at 742,000, coming when the jobless rate was 7.9 percent. Last February the unemployment percentage in Polk County was 8.6 percent.

Across the state, Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, continued to have the lowest jobless numbers. The county recorded a 3.8 percent unemployment rate in February, the same as in January.

Walton County, with the next lowest unemployment rate, grew from 4.2 percent in January to 4.3 percent. Meanwhile, both Alachua and Okaloosa counties held at 5.0 percent month to month.

Hendry County, impacted by long-term cuts in state government jobs, continued to display the highest jobless mark, inching down from 9.8 percent in January to 9.7 percent.

The next highest counties were Flagler, 9.4 percent; Hamilton, 9.0 percent; and Hernando, Madison, and Putnam, each at 8.6 percent.

Polk County ranked 19th of the state’s 67 counties.

Among large counties: Miami-Dade dropped from 7.0 percent in January to 6.7 percent; Broward held at 5.4 percent; Duval grew from 6.4 percent to 6.5 percent; Hillsborough remained at 6.3 percent; Orange sat at 5.9 percent; Palm Beach rested at 6.4 percent; and Pinellas dipped from 6.4 percent to 6.3 percent.

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