Florida's Unemployment Rate Drops to Lowest Point in Three Years

In February it dipped to 9.4 percent, the lowest number in three years

By Brent Kallestad
|  Friday, Mar 30, 2012  |  Updated 5:33 PM EDT
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Gov. Rick Scott is getting a bit more good news on Florida's unemployment front, a development that may also be boosting President Barack Obama's chances for carrying the critical swing state in November.

The Department of Economic Opportunity said Friday that unemployment in Florida dipped to 9.4 percent in February — its lowest number in three years. The report also noted that 10,100 new jobs were created. The state figure was 9.6 percent in January.

Florida has added roughly 64,300 jobs during Scott's first 14 months in office. Florida's first-term Republican governor campaigned on creating 700,000 new jobs in seven years and has made the issue his top priority since taking office. At the present rate, Florida would create roughly 221,000 new jobs in Scott's first term.

"Our state is definitely headed in the right direction," Scott said Friday.

Scott's bullish optimism on bringing in thousands of new jobs would appear to be benefitting Obama's re-election bid in the Sunshine State where a recent poll showed the Democratic president broadening his lead over the Republican presidential hopefuls. Quinnipiac also showed U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson leading Rep. Connie Mack IV in his bid for a third term.

Obama topped former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 49 percent to 42 percent and had a big lead on former Pennsylvania Sen. Santorum, 50 percent to 37 percent, with Florida voters in a Quinnipiac University survey taken between March 20 and March 26. The poll of 1,228 Florida voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.

Obama received a job approval rating of 47 percent while Scott's job performance was rated favorably by 36 percent of the respondents.

The political future of both is somewhat dependent on the economy and getting the unemployed back to work.

Florida's unemployment remains above the national average of 8.3 percent and 47 of the state's 67 counties reported rates higher than the national average with 17 counties above 10 percent.

Flagler County in east-central Florida reported the highest number of jobless with 12.7 percent unemployment while Monroe County in the Florida Keys and home to a lot of government jobs had the lowest at 5.4 percent.

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