The unemployment rate fell in February in every Florida county, data released Friday by the state's Department of Economic Opportunity shows.
The rate fell .2 percent to 9.4 percent in Florida and was down .4 percent in Palm Beach County to 9.2 percent, the department reported. The figures are not comparable, as the state number is adjusted for seasonal employment factors.
"The improvement in the county's unemployment rate reflects a gradual, but steady, recovery in the area's economy," said Steve Craig, president and chief executive officer of Workforce Alliance of Palm Beach County. "This marks the first time since mid-2009 that the county's unemployment rate has been in the single digits for three consecutive months."
For the second consecutive month, Indian River County's jobless rate dropped a little more than that of St. Lucie County.
Indian River County's rate fell to 10.2 percent from 10.8 percent the previous month. St. Lucie County's rate dropped to 11.4 percent from 11.9 percent.
Once again matching the statewide figure, Martin County's jobless rate fell to 9.4 percent from 9.6 percent in January.
It was the seventh consecutive month of lower unemployment rates for St. Lucie County and the sixth for Indian River and Martin counties.
Still, that meant 26,499 Treasure Coast residents were unemployed and actively seeking work.
The jobless rates in Indian River and St. Lucie counties are the lowest since January 2009, when Indian River County's rate was 10.0 percent and St. Lucie County's was 11.0.
The last time Martin County's rate was this low was 9.2 percent in April 2009.
Even with the decline, St. Lucie County's rate was the fourth-highest among the state's 67 counties after ranking third the previous month. Indian River County's ranking dropped to 13th from 12th.
Rebecca Rust, the DEO's chief economist, estimated that another 8.4 percent of the state’s workforce falls in the discouraged, underutilized and part-time categories, and that percentage is probably higher in counties with above-average unemployment.
Despite a drop of nine-tenths of a percentage point, Flagler County's 12.7 percent rate remained the highest in Florida, followed by Hernando County (12.1 percent) and Hendry County (11.7).
"Florida's drop in its unemployment rate and increase in private sector job creation continues to prove our state is definitely headed in the right direction," Gov. Rick Scott said in a news release. "The signing of my 2012 Jobs and Economic Development Package represents a significant step toward ensuring Florida is the best place in the nation to create, attract and retain jobs."
The DEO report said 10,100 jobs were created in February in Florida and that is having a positive impact on the state's unemployment compensation totals, with 346,000 people claiming benefits, compared with the peak of 735,000 in February 2010.
Whether a person is eligible for or receiving unemployment compensation or other benefits is not a factor in whether that person is counted among the unemployed.