Florida's unemployment rate up slightly in August, remains above national rate

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TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Florida's unemployment rate was up slightly in August and Gov. Rick Scott is trying to make the best of the report released Friday.

The August rate of 6.3 percent is up slightly from 6.2 percent in July and remains above the national average of 6.1 percent. The state's unemployment rate has been flat all year, beginning at 6.2 percent in January.

Scott has made job creation the central theme of his re-election campaign and chose to point out that 23,000 private sector jobs were created in August, rather than focusing on the slight uptick in the unemployment rate. He called the report "great news."

"As we continue to create an opportunity economy and a business-friendly environment, we are seeing more jobs being created throughout Florida communities," Scott said in the press release. "We will continue to work so that every Floridian who wants a job can get one."

Scott campaigned in 2010 with the slogan "Let's get to work" and the promise of creating 700,000 jobs over seven years. When it was pointed out to him that his promise was 300,000 fewer jobs than the 1 million state economists projected Florida would gain as it emerged from the recession no matter who was governor, Scott said his promise was 700,000 jobs above the projection.

The governor's office said 643,100 private sector jobs have been created since December 2010, meaning Scott is a long way away from meeting his promise of 1.7 million jobs in seven years. Scott's slogan for the re-election campaign is "Let's keep working."

In August, 602,000 Floridians were unemployed. Monroe County had the lowest unemployment rate at 3.9 percent, followed by Walton County at 4.0 percent and Okaloosa County at 4.9 percent.

Hendry County had the highest unemployment rate at 13.1 percent, followed by Flagler county at 9.5 percent and Hamilton County at 9.4 percent.

Scott is facing Republican-turned-Democrat former Gov. Charlie Crist. Scott has repeatedly pointed out that unemployment rose to 11.4 percent under Crist during the global recession.

In a statement released through his campaign, Crist said the state needs to improve the economy by helping the middle class and small businesses.

"The latest jobs report and recent reports on Florida falling behind the rest of the nation in income demonstrate the reality of Rick Scott's high cost, low wage economy," Crist said.


Follow Brendan Farrington on Twitter: http://twitter.com/bsfarrington

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