Florida's unemployment declines to 8.7 percent

South Florida rates also drop

In the last tally before the election, Florida's unemployment slipped to 8.7 percent in September, down from 8.8 in August, the state said Friday.  A year ago, unemployment was 10.5 percent in the state.

In South Florida, unemployment also fell. Broward's jobless rate dropped to 7.5 percent compared to 9.3 percent a year ago. Palm Beach's jobless rate was 9.2 percent compared to 11.1 percent in September 2011. Martin County's jobless rate was 9.4 percent compared to 11.2 in 2011. St. Lucie was 11.7 percent compared to 13.6 in September of 2011. Okeechobee's rate was 10.3 percent compared to 12.8 a year ago. Indian River was 11.3 percent compared to 13.4 percent one year ago.

Broward's August rate was revised  upward to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent.

Florida has added 63,500 jobs since September 2011, the state said, though only 800 were added since August.

A job fair in Davie this week attracted more than 7,500 job seekers as more employers than usual signed up for the hiring event, saying they had more jobs to fill.

The number of "help wanted" online openings in Florida increased sharply in  September, to nearly 269,000, a 15 percent increase over a year ago, Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity said earlier this week. The data is collected by an independent research group, The Conference Board.

Florida's rate of 8.7 percent represents 808,000 residents unemployed out of a labor force of 9.3 million -- a rise from 9.26 million in August.  State economists have previously said that the recent declines in unemployment reflected people dropping out of the labor force.

September's data shows an uptick of people re-entering the job market and looking for a job for the first time, a sign of optimism among job seekers in the state and nationally.

State unemployment is still higher than national unemployment, which dropped to 7.8 percent -- below 8 percent for the first time since January 2009.

The wptv.com web team contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2012, South Florida Sun-Sentinel


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