Florida’s unemployment rate remains higher than the national average and isn’t getting either better or worse, although the office of Gov. Rick Scott is touting an increase of 9,000 new jobs in June as a sign of improvement.
Florida’s unemployment rate in June was 8.6 percent, the same as in May. The national unemployment rate is 8.2 percent.
Gov. Scott noted that the fact that Florida added those 9,000 new jobs over the past month is a good sign, and shows that Florida is heading in the right direction. There have been 71,000 jobs created in the state so far this year, the governor noted.
“Our strategy for Florida is working,” Scott said. “We are lowering taxes and eliminating burdensome business regulations so that private-sector jobs can grow, and we are also making sure we have a well-educated workforce. As a result, Florida’s economy is headed in the right direction, and annual sales of single-family homes are 6.6 percent ahead of last year.”
Still, the newly named Florida Department of Economic Opportunity said that while the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for June was unchanged from May, nearly 800,000 Floridians are still jobless.
Florida was one of the hardest hit states by both the national recession and the collapse of the housing market. The state’s housing was soaring in the past decade, and the state went through a residential home construction boom between 2004 and 2007. Several local counties, including Osceola and Polk, rode the wave quite successfully.
But when the housing market crashed in 2008, the economy throughout the region – where unemployment had been as low as 3 percent during the housing market’s peak – tanked badly and the jobless rate soared into double digits throughout much of 2009 and 2010.
According to the DEO report, Metro Orlando added 9,800 jobs in the last year, an increase of 1 percent, but the regional jobless rate actually went up from 8.3 percent in May to 8.7 percent in June – largely because the local labor pool grew by 1 percent over the month, and not all of those new job seekers could find steady employment.
Scott was in Orlando on Wednesday for the opening of the new Wawa convenience store near SeaWorld, the first time that retailer based in Pennsylvania has built a store outside of the Mid-Atlantic.
It’s the first of five stores that are being constructed in either Orlando or Kissimmee in the next month, bringing about 35 new jobs to each store.
“As companies are choosing to grow and expand in our state, we are continuing to see Florida experience a positive economic recovery,” Scott said. “Floridians have more and more opportunities to get back to work, and last month, 9,000 Floridians were able to get a job and provide for their families.”
The governor has also been encouraging Floridians who are job hunting to visit one of nearly 100 One-Stop Career Centers located throughout the state. Scott visited one of those centers in Zephyrhills on Friday morning, overseen by the Pasco Hernando Workforce Board.
He also noted that Florida’s very troubled housing market is also showing signs of some improvement.
“Median prices have consistently trended upward since last November and are currently up 16.1 percent, signaling good news for Floridians looking to sell their homes,” Scott said. “For the 12 months ending this June, residential building permits are up 25 percent over the previous year, and Florida is now anticipating more people moving into our state than in recent years, based on last week’s Demographic Estimating Conference.”
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