Fla. Unemployment Over 10 Percent

Highest in three decades

TALLAHASSEE - Florida's unemployment rate in May jumped to 10.2 percent - its highest level in more than three decades.

The state agency that tracks unemployment numbers said Friday that unemployment rose by half a percentage point over the revised April figure of 9.7 percent. The May figures represent the highest unemployment number in Florida since 1975 when it was 11 percent.

The national unemployment number for May stood at 9.4 percent.

The Agency for Workforce Innovation said 943,000 Floridians workers are now out of a job, including 58,000 who got pink slips last month.

Thirty three of Florida's 67 counties now have double-digit unemployment.

In Flagler County, which borders the Atlantic Ocean in northeast Florida, one in seven eligible workers have been idled during the longest recession since the Great Depression in the early 1930s.

The counties least affected have been insulated largely by a high number of government jobs or are rural counties that are home to state prisons.

More than 417,000 Floridians have lost jobs in the last year, including nearly 91,000 in the construction industry alone.

In May 2008, the state's unemployment number stood at 5.8 percent.

AWI director Cynthia Lorenzo left a meeting with Gov. Charlie Crist on the unemployment situation through an exit away from waiting reporters. Crist, meanwhile, headed to Fort Lauderdale where he planned to visit a job center.

Some economists, however, predict things could worsen slightly before any turnaround.

A recent report by the Wachovia Economists Group said the state has yet to emerge from the biggest nemesis in the downturn, a housing bust. But the analysts said signs of improvement could begin to emerge by fall.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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