Rick Scott leaves office with Florida's unemployment rate at 3.3 percent low


  • Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr
Gov. Rick Scott will exit the governor’s mansion proclaiming an unemployment rate that is nearly 8 percentage points lower than when he moved in.

The state Department of Economic Opportunity on Friday said Florida’s estimated jobless rate was 3.3 percent in November, down from 3.4 percent a month earlier.

The state figure, which is below the nation’s 3.7 percent jobless rate, represents 335,000 Floridians qualifying as being unemployed from a labor force of 10.26 million.

When Scott was sworn into the governor’s office in January 2011, the state’s jobless mark stood at 11.1 percent. The national mark at the time —- as Florida and the rest of the country recovered from a deep recession —- was 9.4 percent.

Scott, who had never held public office, pinned his 2010 gubernatorial campaign on creating jobs, using the theme, “Let’s Get to Work.” His tenure in office also coincided with broader national job growth.

“Being governor is the best job in the world, and I am excited about the economic success that Florida has been able to achieve over the past eight years,” Scott, who will move to the U.S. Senate in January, said in a prepared statement Friday.

The state’s peak unemployment from the recession was 11.3 percent in January 2010, three months before Scott opened a campaign account to run for governor. His platform included a seven-step economic program that “over a 7-year period —- will have a positive economic impact and create over 700,000 jobs for the state of Florida."

The target was at one time "on top of what normal growth would be."

On Friday, the governor’s office said Florida businesses have created more than 1.67 million private-sector jobs since December 2010, with the state’s employment growth rate outpacing the nation in 79 of the past 80 months. The outlier month was September 2017, when Hurricane Irma swept through the state.

The latest numbers from the Department of Economic Opportunity —- based on separate surveys of households and employers —- were driven by an increase in leisure and hospitality jobs, up 53,200 over the past year. Next highest were education and health services jobs, up 50,700 positions, followed by professional and business services, 45,400 jobs, and construction, 32,900 jobs.

Government jobs, mostly at the local level, fell by 9,600 in the same period.

Across the state, Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, had the lowest jobless mark in November, 2.4 percent, followed by St. Johns and Okaloosa counties at 2.5 percent.

At the other end were two counties directly hit by Hurricane Michael in October. Gulf County’s jobless mark stood at 8.4 percent, up from 2.8 percent in the report for October. Bay County, which also was at 2.8 percent in October, jumped to 6.1 percent in November.

The statewide unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted, while the local rates are not.

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