Florida created an impressive 33,400 jobs in February, the biggest one-month jump in new jobs in more than three years.
The last time Florida experienced a similar monthly growth spurt was in May 2010, when the federal stimulus program created 45,200 jobs statewide in an effort to jump-start the economy. Take away that lone, stimulus-inspired month and Florida would have to go all the way back to the boom-time summer of 2005 for such a jobs surge.
The state's unemployment rate remained unchanged from an upwardly revised 6.2 percent in January. That was largely seen as favorable, however, as it indicated many discouraged jobless who had given up were again looking for work.
Since February of last year, the unemployment rate has fallen 1.7 percentage points and the state has created 211,500 jobs, according to data released by the state Friday morning.
About 588,000 Floridians remain jobless out of a workforce of 9.52 million. Tampa Bay's unemployment rate was 6.5 percent, unchanged from January. The national rate for February was 6.7 percent.
The state's total labor pool swelled by 58,000 — three times as much as its 16-and-up population grew — which helps explain why the unemployment rate didn't improve despite the jump in jobs. Experts have long warned that as the economy picks up, more people who had given up will re-enter the jobs market. That's generally a good sign for the economy, even though it creates a drag on the unemployment rate.