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New Jobs Report Is Here & Unemployment Is Down

Florida's unemployment rate continued to drop in December, according to the new figures released by the Department of Economic Opportunity.

The state jobless rate dropped from 5.8% in November to 5.6% last month. That matches the national unemployment figure. DEO Commissioner Jesse Panuccio says in the western Panhandle, the numbers and job growth reflect the statewide trends and then some.

“In Escambia it’s 5.4%, Santa Rosa’s 4.8, Okaloosa is 4.2 and Walton is 3.8%,” said Panuccio. “And with the December numbers in we really have the completion of a four-year picture of recovery in the state. And I think it’s safe to say that statewide – and regionally – the economy is stronger than it has been in years.”

The December figures also translate to about 543,000 people out of work in the state. Florida added an estimated 12,700 jobs in December, and the 5.6% mark is the lowest it’s been since 5.4% in the spring of 2008.

Among Florida’s metro areas, Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent’s unemployment rate for December was at 5.2%. The Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin metro was at 4.2% last month.

Florida's unemployment rate drop since 2010 was initially said to be caused by people who stopped looking for work. But economists say that trend changed in 2014 as the economy began to recover.

In December, almost 40,000 Floridians were placed in jobs by the state’s two dozen regional workforce boards, including CareerSource EscaRosa which serves Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties.

Next door, Alabama's unemployment rate dropped to 5.7% percent in December, the lowest rate in more than six years, down from 6% in November.

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