Florida’s unemployment rate remained at 4.7 percent for the fifth consecutive month even as the state added 23,000 jobs in September, according to numbers released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity on Friday.
The state’s unemployment rate has been below 5 percent since March, a fact Gov. Rick Scott lauded while attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Fort Lauderdale. Florida’s rate hasn’t been below 4.7 percent since November 2007. The national jobless rate is 5 percent.
A jobless rate of 4.7 percent is in the range of what’s historically been considered full employment, but many consider that number to be deceptive. Economists have said a continued low labor force participation rate indicates that there are many sidelined workers nationally and in the state who aren’t looking for work and therefore aren’t counted among the jobless.
Of the 23,000 jobs added in September, 17,900 were in the private sector, pushing the total to nearly 200,000 this year. Since December 2010, Scott, who has made job creation his top priority as governor, said that 1,222,500 private-sector jobs have been created in Florida. Moreover, for the 54th consecutive month, Florida’s annual job growth rate of 3.6 percent is exceeding the nation’s rate of 1.9 percent.
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According to the Department of Economic Opportunity, all 24 of Florida’s metro areas saw year-over-year gains in September. The largest were in the Orlando area (52,200), followed by Fort Lauderdale (35,400) and Tampa Bay (32,000). The industries with the largest job gains in the Tampa Bay area were professional and business services with 8,500, education and health services with 6,800, and leisure and hospitality with 6,100.
The Bradenton-Sarasota-North Port region fell in line with the state average at 4.7 percent unemployment, down from 4.9 percent in September 2015. Nearby, Hillsborough County was at 4.6 percent, and Pinellas County was at 4.4.
At 3.2 percent, Monroe County had the lowest unemployment rate in Florida last month. Hendry County had the highest unemployment rate at 11.3 percent.
Nationally, unemployment rates rose in three of eight presidential rate swing states last month, fell in two and were unchanged in three.
Rates rose in Michigan, North Carolina and Ohio, dropped in Nevada and New Hampshire, and stayed flat in Florida, Iowa and Pennsylvania.