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Florida's unemployment rate dropped slightly in September

A businessman with a briefcase in hand is walking up on stairs.
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Florida's unemployment rate dropped .1% in September. More than half a million people remain unemployed versus the more than 10 million in the workforce. Adrienne Johnston is Chief Economist with the Department of Economic Opportunity. She says some sectors of the job market are recovering faster than others.

In September, Florida's unemployment rate dropped .1%, making it 4.9% versus 5% in August. Florida's ranking as the 29th lowest state for unemployment by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics remains the same.

According to the state's Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), Florida's labor force in September was up 50,000, meaning 10,593,000 people are in the workforce versus the more than half a million unemployed. DEO Chief Economist Adrienne Johnston says some sectors of the job market are recovering faster than others.

"The construction sector added 6,900 jobs in September, joining financial services and professional and business services in surpassing its employment numbers from February of 2020 prior to the pandemic. Except for leisure and hospitality, all private sector industries have recovered at least 80% of jobs compared to their February 2020 employment numbers," Johnston said.

Still, Florida saw some improvements in its leisure and hospitality industry. In September, that sector gained 26,600 new jobs. But DEO Secretary Dane Eagle hinted that trouble could be on the horizon. He said the state's unemployment rate could increase if people continue to lose jobs over vaccine mandates. In addition, Eagle said if people choose not to get vaccinated and get fired, they could leave the workforce altogether.

"Either case, it's not healthy for the economy, it's not healthy for individual's livelihoods, and that's something we certainly want to avoid here in Florida, and that's why the Governor made that big announcement yesterday," Eagle said.

Eagle is referring to Governor Ron DeSantis announcing that he wants lawmakers to convene for a special legislative session. His legislation wish list includes protections for workers who refuse to get a COVID-19 shot.