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Florida's unemployment rate drops in March

By Sascha Cordner

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-963635.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – Governor Rick Scott says Florida's jobless rate is the lowest he's seen in more than a year at 11.1 percent, slightly down from February's numbers. As Sascha Cordner reports, Scott's made a brief appearance at a press conference today Friday to show just how optimistic he was at the slight decrease.

Recent polls show Scott is not so popular among voters and he's below the 50-percent level in the ratings. But, the Governor tried to gain more popularity with the people as he announced the state's reduction in the unemployment rate for the month of March.

"So, Cynthia and I have great news today and I thank Cynthia Lorenzo and the AWI team for joining me today. Today we are announcing that Florida's unemployment rate for March is 11.1 percent."

The state's unemployment rate has been showing signs of improvement, since the rate peaked at 12 percent in December, dropping from 11.5 percent in February. Scott's enthusiasm for the 11.1 percent figure showed as he continued to talk about the improvement.

"While that number is still too high, that is the lowest we've seen in more than a year, and that represents a nearly 1-percent decrease since I became Governor."

Florida's Agency for Workforce Innovation Chief Economist Rebecca Rust then broke down the numbers for the metropolitan areas of Florida with the lowest unemployment.

"The lowest unemployment rates are in Gainesville, that's the very lowest, tied with Crestview-Ft. Walton Beach-Destin had the lowest at 7.5 percent for March, and these aren't seasonally adjusted and some of these when we say not seasonally adjusted, that means they can be impacted over the month by seasonal trends, and tourism, or agriculture, and education."

She adds Tallahassee also has a low unemployment rate at 7.5 percent, and it's due to a number of factors.

"All three of those areas have a higher proportion of Government employment and that can be because of a military base, due to state government, and a state university. All of those can contribute and some of the small counties that have a very low unemployment rate are because one of their major employers is a prison and that leads to increase stability of employment.

"I think it's great .. I think it again speaks to the level of coordination on the local level."

Kimberly Moore is the Chief Executive Officer of Workforce Plus, an agency that helps jobs seekers and employers in the Leon and Wakulla county areas.

"We maintain the 2nd and/or 3rd lowest unemployment numbers for the last one year, two year mark. Again that speaks well of our education system, the fact that we're creating short term training programs that allow individuals that have been impacted and more out of jobs to go into more recession proof areas, such as health care."

But, at the end of his short appearance Scott says Florida may be moving in the right direction, but the state still has a long way to go.

"Because we still have more than a million people out of work and that's why I'm working everyday to create jobs and grow Florida's private sector. I believe in reducing regulation, cutting Florida's business tax, and streamlining the state's economic development function are the ways to make that happen and I renew my call to the legislature to implement these core principles."

But, some may disagree with that assessment. Just earlier on in the week and in weeks past, Labor unions from across the state came together to protest the job Governor Rick Scott has been doing so far, including that's he's not keeping his promises of getting Florida Back to Work.

"I don't know if you all saw the polls this week, but it appears our Governor is not very popular in the state .it appears our Governor isn't popular in the state, but it's not enough for us to rely on that and let sleeping fellows lie We need to give voice to it every single day."

The national unemployment rate is still significantly lower than Florida's at 8.8 percent, since November of 2006.