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How does Florida job growth compare to other states?

While Florida's unemployment rate dipped to 5.4 percent last month, 28 other states and the nation as a whole boasted lower jobless rates.

It can be tough to assess how the Sunshine State is doing without knowing how other states are performing. So let's take a look.

Seasonally adjusted, Florida's employment hit 8.1 million in July, an increase of 30,500 jobs or up 0.4 percent over June. Only California (+80,700) and Texas (+31,400) reported greater increases in jobs that month. Nor did all states report gains. New Jersey lost 13,600 jobs, followed by Louisiana (-4,500) and Kansas (-4,300).

For the past year — since July 2014 — Florida gained 271,500 jobs, a 3.5 percent increase, according to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers. That should warm the heart of Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who seems to have a personal jobs competition going with the larger Texas. While California leads all states in the past year with new jobs, adding 494,300, Florida's annual job gain beat out Texas (+260,500) by a margin of 11,000.

On the other hand, the Texas unemployment rate is just 4.2 percent, well below Florida's — though the rates in both states lie within a low unemployment range economists consider healthy. Texas slowed because the energy sector is down, while Florida kept adding jobs to match another record year in tourism, among other economic sectors.

But the Sunshine State enjoyed a job surge from an unexpected slice of the economy.

While Gov. Scott chose to emphasize the number of private sector jobs in Florida created in July — 16,900 — the number of government jobs rose considerably. Local governments added 14,000 jobs in July, offset slightly by 400 fewer state and federal jobs in the state.

That means almost 45 percent of the jobs created in July in Florida were government hires. Small wonder Scott, who has long trumpeted the virtues of small government, opted not to highlight those figures.

Contact Robert Trigaux at rtrigaux@tampabay.com

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