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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida unemployment falls to 9.4 percent



Florida's unemployment rate tumbled in February to 9.4 percent, reaching the lowest point in three years, state officials reported Friday morning.

"Florida's drop in its unemployment rate and increase in private sector job creation continues to prove our state is definitely headed in the right direction," Gov. Rick Scott said in a prepared statement. "The signing of my 2012 Jobs and Economic Development Package represents a significant step towards ensuring Florida is the best place in the nation to create, attract and retain jobs."

The figure, down from 9.6 percent in January, represents 869,000 jobless out of a labor force of nearly 9.3 million.

Separately, an employer survey shows the state created 10,100 jobs between January and February. That's a partial bounceback from January when Florida lost 38,600 jobs, the largest drop in the country.

Florida has gained a net 72,300 jobs over the past year. Among metro areas, Tampa Bay leads the way, up 20,800 jobs since February 2011. Over the last month alone, the region is up 9,300 jobs.

Like the state, Tampa Bay's jobless rate also fell to 9.4 percent, fed by stronger improvement in its more urban counties: Hillsborough and Pinellas both dropped to 9 percent. Outlying counties aren't as fortunate, as they're still battling double-digit unemployment. Hardest hit is Hernando County at 12.1 percent.

State figures are seasonally adjusted, but regional and county numbers are not.

Keep tabs on the developing story here.

[Last modified: Friday, March 30, 2012 10:49am]


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