[UPDATE] THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, March 10, 2011 --
Florida added 8,400 jobs from a year ago as the state’s unemployment rate fell to 11.9 percent in January, a 0.1 percent dip from December, the Agency for Workforce Innovation reported Thursday.
With 1.1 million of 9.3 million Floridians out of work during the month, January’s figure was 0.6 percentage points higher than January 2010. The national unemployment rate for February was 8.9 percent.
January’s jobless rate was released the same day Florida House members were expected to pass a measure that would reduce benefits to jobless workers as lawmakers wrestle with budget deficits that forced them to borrow billions from the federal government to pay unemployment claims as the economy continues to struggle.
The state’s top labor official expressed hope Thursday that Florida’s rocky recovery was proceeding slowly forward, evidenced by stable consumer confidence and higher online advertising activity.
“While Florida’s unemployment rate is still unacceptably high, we are seeing positive signs that employers are starting to hire,” said Agency for Workforce Innovation Director Cynthia R. Lorenzo.
Florida’s total nonagricultural employment in January 2011 was 7.2 million, a decline of 12,900 jobs from December 2010, as business released workers hired for the holiday season. Over the year, jobs are up by 8,400, an increase of 0.1 percent from January 2010.
The University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research released consumer confidence figures for February that remained unchanged from January. While the monthly survey remained unchanged at 77, it found Floridians more willing to buy big-ticket items and more optimistic about the U.S. economy over the next year.
Counties with the lowest unemployment rates continue to be those in which state and local governments are prominent employers. Liberty and Monroe counties have the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 7.6 Percent, followed by Alachua County (8.6 percent), Wakulla County (8.7 percent), Leon County (8.8 percent), and Okaloosa County (8.9 percent).
At 16 percent, Flagler County has the state’s highest unemployment rate. It is followed by Hernando County at 15.1 percent, Hendry and Marion counties at 14.2 percent and St. Lucie County at 14.1 percent.
The state’s tourism sector gained ground in January, adding 32,600 jobs year-to-year.
Sectors continuing to struggle included construction, which lost 24,000 jobs (6.7 percent), financial services, off 7,700 jobs and manufacturing, off 6,100 jobs.
March 10, 2011 -- Unemployment in Florida dipped to 11.9 percent in January, down slightly from December, the Agency for Workforce Innovation reported Thursday. A growth of 8,400 jobs over January of a year ago represents the fourth straight month of positive annual job growth.
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