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  1. Business

Florida adds 16,900 private-sector jobs as unemployment drops

Florida added 16,900 private-sector jobs in July as the unemployment rate dropped to 5.4 percent from 5.6 percent in June.

In the Tampa Bay area, Pinellas County led the way with a 5.0 percent unemployment rate, up a tick from 4.9 percent. Hillsborough County stood at 5.2 percent, while the Pasco-Hernando region was at 6.3 percent.

"In July, Florida saw another strong month of job creation," said Jesse Panuccio, executive director of the Economic Opportunity office. "We continue to outpace national growth, and our business climate continues to be one of the best in the nation."

Since June, Florida's jobless rate has been at a level most economists call "full employment." People who are not actively looking for work are not included in the unemployment figure.

"Some people are still exiting the labor force," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James Financial. "They're moving to the sideline when they're not employed."

Florida's job market is healthier than during the Great Recession, and some long-term growth trends are here to stay, Brown said. This includes the recovery of the real estate market, which added 4,800 jobs in construction.

Brown also said Florida's tourism industry has been boosted by the decline in oil prices. The leisure and hospitality sector gained 3,600 jobs in July.

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