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Florida posts another big drop in unemployment rate

3:16 PM, May 17, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida's unemployment rate drops to 7.2 percent - its lowest level in nearly five years.

Construction, trade and hospitality are among the industries adding the most jobs over the past year.

The latest jobs report shows Florida's private sector created nearly 17,000 jobs in April. The jobless rate dropped three-tenths of a percent from March. It has dropped nearly four points since Gov. Rick Scott took office.

David Hart of the Florida Chamber of Commerce calls it exciting news because Florida has now posted positive annual job growth for 33 straight months.

"We continue to be bullish on Florida. In fact, as a longtime Floridian myself, if I could buy stock in Florida, I'd buy every share I could get. Really exciting day for Florida with this news that we've had 33 consecutive months of our unemployment numbers falling and positive job creation, 16,700 new jobs created in Florida last month and two months in a row now below the national average."

The national jobless rate is 7.5 percent.

The report shows the Tampa Bay area has recorded the highest job growth in Florida over the past year, adding more than 35,000 jobs. Tampa's unemployment rate is down to 6.7 percent.

Jacksonville has the second highest job growth with more than 16,000 new jobs over the past year. Its unemployment rate has dropped to 6.3 percent.

As the jobs report came out Friday, Gov. Scott signed a bill that eliminates the sales tax on manufacturing equipment in Florida.

The new law aims to make Florida more competitive with other states in the Southeast and along the Gulf Coast that also offer the tax break.

Gov. Scott pushed for the legislation this spring and state lawmakers agreed to try the idea for three years. The law takes effect in 2014 and will be reviewed in 2017 to see if it's working.

Manufacturing currently employs 340,000 people in Florida. That represents about four percent of the labor force.

Hart says the tax break will make Florida more competitive.

"It just made so much sense to remove that uncompetitive requirement on our manufacturers. It gives us a chance to compete with other states and draw those kinds of good, high-paying jobs to Florida."

The Florida Chamber reports that four of the top 10 manufacturing companies in the state are located in the Tampa Bay area.

Dave Heller

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