Keys remain among the state's lowest in joblessness rate

News Service of FloridaJune 25, 2014 

The low unemployment rate for Monroe County is related to the high number of government jobs. This is the county's Harvey Government Center on Truman Avenue in Key West.

MONROE COUNTY

Monroe County continues to be among the leaders of Florida's 67 counties in having one of the state's lowest unemployment rates.

Friday, the state Department of Economic Opportunity reported that for May, Northwest Florida's Walton County maintained the lowest unemployment rate in May at 3.4 percent, up from 3.2 percent.

It was followed by Monroe County (the Florida Keys) at 3.6 percent, Okaloosa County at 4.4 percent, and Alachua and Wakulla counties, 4.8 percent each.

On the other end of the spectrum, Southwest Florida's Hendry County had the highest unemployment rate at 9.4 percent. It was followed by Flagler County at 8.6 percent and Hamilton County at 8.5 percent.

The statewide rate of 6.3 percent is still significantly below the 7.5 percent mark of a year ago and been mostly flat this year, wavering from 6.2 percent in February to 6.3 percent in March and back to 6.2 percent in April before the May increase.

The unemployment numbers, which have been a focus of Gov. Rick Scott's re-election campaign, represent an estimated 606,000 jobless Floridians out of a workforce of 9.6 million.

Scott's campaign has made the economy and private-sector job creation a focal point of numerous commercials that compare the current economic numbers with those during the term of former Gov. Charlie Crist. Crist, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination to oppose Scott in November, was in office as Florida struggled through the national economic recession.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the largest over-the-month decrease in employment -- 17,900 jobs -- occurred in Florida, which was followed by Arizona and Illinois.

The largest over-the-month increases in employment occurred in Texas, Pennsylvania and New York.

While the DEO release pointed to the steady rise of private-sector jobs and the growth of the labor pool, counties with the highest proportion of government jobs, such as Monroe, continue to rank among those with the lowest unemployment marks.

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