Florida ended 2016 with an unemployment rate that was unchanged in December and 0.2 percentage points lower than at the start of the year.
The monthly jobless mark of 4.9 percent for December, the same as November, represented 491,000 Floridians who qualified as unemployed from a workforce of 9.95 million, the state Department of Economic Opportunity said on Jan. 20.
“As we see a falling unemployment rate over the past 12 months and an increase in residents in our state and an increase in job participation, what it shows is more people are able to find jobs and find their new opportunities,” department Executive Director Cissy Proctor said.
The unemployment rate at the end of 2015 was 5.1 percent, with an estimated 493,000 Floridians out of work. The labor force has grown by 223,000 people since the start of the year, with top increases in the fields of education and health services, hospitality, and professional and business services.
Gov. Rick Scott, attending the presidential inauguration in Washington on Jan. 20, issued a release that said Florida businesses created 237,300 new private-sector jobs in 2016. The national unemployment rate in December stood at 4.7 percent, down from 4.9 percent when the year began.
The state’s estimated jobless total grew by 9,000 people from November to December, with private-sector jobs dropping by 2,700.
Rate by counties
Monroe County, which started 2016 with the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 3.3 percent, maintained the best mark at 3.0 percent last month.
Hamilton County followed, with a 3.4 percent unemployment rate. St. Johns County, which started the year at 3.8 percent, was third-lowest in December with a 3.6 percent mark. Rural Hendry County throughout the year retained the highest jobless rate.
The inland county southwest of Lake Okeechobee, started the year at 8.4 percent and ended 2016 at 8.0 percent. Hendry was followed by Citrus County, which started the year at 7.2 percent and stood at 6.7 percent in December. Sumter County, meanwhile, went from 7.3 percent to 6.6 percent.