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Florida unemployment drops to 6.4%, labor force continues to shrink

From the Tampa Bay Times' Jeff Harrington:

Florida's unemployment rate fell dramatically to 6.4 percent in November, down from 6.7 percent in October and 8 percent a year ago.

Nationwide, only North Carolina and New Jersey have had a greater percentage point drop in the their jobless rate over the year.

The state added a net 6,100 jobs between October and November, state officials said Friday.

Once again, Tampa Bay led all Florida metros in adding 39,300 jobs year over year, while its unemployment rate fell to 6.2 per cent. Pinellas and Hillsborough counties boasted the lowest jobless rates in the region at 6 percent while Hernando remained at the other end of the spectrum at 7.7 percent.

"We haven't experienced an unemployment rate this low in over five years," said Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who was in Winter Park this morning to release the latest jobs report. "Today's news is great, but we're not finished."

After suffering deeper job losses than most of the country and initially lagging in recovery, Florida's economic rebound has gained steam this year. The national unemployment rate stood at 7 percent in November.

The recovery, however, continues to mask a growing problem of jobless who have at least temporarily given up looking for work and are no longer counted in unemployment statistics. Over the past year, Florida's working-age population of 16-and-up, non-institutional residents has grown by 214,000 but the size of its labor force shrunk by 9,000.

Read more here.