Florida's unemployment rate dips below 5 percent

Florida's unemployment rate dips below 5 percent

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida's unemployment rate is below 5 percent for the first time in eight years.

The state's employment agency announced Friday that unemployment in February was 4.9 percent, down 0.2 percent from the revised January rate of 5.1 percent.

There were about 484,000 Floridians without jobs out of a labor force of 9,793,000.

Monroe County had the lowest unemployment rate at 3.1 percent, followed by St. Johns County at 3.5 percent and Lafayette County at 3.9 percent.

Hendry County had the highest unemployment rate at 7.8 percent, followed by Sumter County at 6.8 percent and Citrus County at 6.6 percent.

The number of Florida jobs increased by about 5,900 in February and by more than 243,000 over the previous year.

Palm Beach County Unemployment Rate At 4.5%

CareerSource said Friday that Palm Beach County's 4.5 percent unemployment rate for February 2016 fell 0.5 percentage points compared to last year and dropped 0.4 percentage points from January 2016.

Gov. Rick Scott said the West Palm Beach area added 16,600 new private-sector jobs over the year in February.

"With more than 16,000 jobs added over the year in February in West Palm Beach and more than one million jobs created across the state in five years, it is clear that Florida is headed in the right direction," said Scott in a news release.  "By cutting taxes 55 times, including more than $1 billion in taxes cut over the last two years, we are showing families and businesses across the country that Florida is the best place to succeed. We will continue to do all we can to support this growth so Florida can be number one for jobs."

The industries with the highest job growth over the year in the West Palm Beach area were education and health services with 4,500 new jobs and professional and business services with 3,600 new jobs.

In February, the West Palm Beach area had 21,606 job openings, which also included 6,323 high-wage, high-skill science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) occupations.