THE NEWS SERVICE
Florida’s jobless rate dropped 0.2 percentage points in September – to 3.8 percent – even though the number of people with jobs fell by 42,000 from August.
Gov. Rick Scott attributed the drop in the state’s unemployment rate to Hurricane Irma, a massive storm that swept throughout the state last month.
The estimated figures posted Oct. 20 by the Department of Economic Opportunity also stripped Monroe County – still reeling from the powerful storm that made initial landfall in the Keys on Sept. 10 – of its long-held position of the state’s lowest jobless mark.
“Hurricane Irma was the largest storm we have seen, which affected our entire state and led to the largest evacuation and power restoration effort,” Scott said in a release. “Obviously, our jobs numbers were affected because of this.
“Florida is a resilient state and we are working around the clock to rebuild and recover from this unprecedented storm.”
Highest in Hendry
Monroe County saw its unemployment mark grow to 3.3 percent, up from 2.7 percent in August. The September number is higher than 20 other counties.
Okaloosa and St. Johns counties now hold the mark for the lowest jobless rate, both at 2.7 percent.
Rural Hendry County, which was entering the citrus growing season, is the highest at 8.6 percent. Florida’s citrus industry took an estimated $760 million hit due to Irma.
“When businesses are closed down, they are not creating new jobs,” Cissy Proctor, executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity, told Scott and the Cabinet last week.
“But, there are a lot of companies and businesses all across the state that are up and running again, and are having their employees come in and work and are creating jobs.”
The Florida numbers released represent 383,000 jobless from a workforce of 10.1 million.
The monthly total of jobless is down 25,000 from August, while the workforce has grown by 17,000 in the same time.
The federal rate fell to 4.2 percent in September from 4.4 percent in August, but also saw jobless claims grow, in large part to Hurricane Harvey’s impact on Texas.