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Florida's unemployment rate on record-breaking track

Floridians will find out Friday morning if we're in record unemployment territory.

Florida's current unemployment rate is 11.5 percent and state economist Amy Baker told legislators this week that the worst is yet to come, predicting an imminent climb to 12 percent.

The dreaded milestone could be reached as soon as 10 a.m. Friday, when the state's jobless numbers for December are released. A half-percentage jump in one month would be a major leap, but not unprecedented.

If it happens, that would top a modern-era record of 11.9 percent set in May, 1975. In fact, it would be the highest ever on record. (Florida didn't keep statistics on jobless rates before January, 1970.)

Baker and other economists have projected that it may be a couple of years before Florida regains its financial footing and as late as 2018 before the state returns to a more palatable rate below 6 percent.

The briefing to the Senate Ways and Means Committee heralds a tough challenge for lawmakers in the upcoming session. They're grappling with a projected $3 billion budget shortfall and 1.1 million jobless statewide. Plus, they've borrowed more than $1 billion so far from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits because of the state's depleted unemployment trust fund.

Friday update: Florida hits 11.8 percent unemployment, just shy of the record. For more details: go to money.tampabay.com.

Florida's unemployment rate on record-breaking track 01/21/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 22, 2010 10:29am]
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