Monday, Sep 22, 2014
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Hernando's jobless rate dips but still among highest in state

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Published:   |   Updated: December 22, 2013 at 12:53 PM

BROOKSVILLE - Hernando County's unemployment rate dropped in November and stands at 7.7 percent.

That compares to 7.9 percent in October and 9.6 percent in November 2012.

Hernando's unemployment rate for the month ranked 10th highest of Florida's 67 counties.

County commission Chairman Dave Russell called the latest figures encouraging.

"I think we've definitely turned the corner," he said.

Russell said there seem to be positive vibrations in local stores and restaurants, an indication that people have money to spend.

"You can feel it if you go out on the roads," he said. "All the commerce. People in stores."

Florida's unemployment rate fell to 6.4 percent in November, down from 6.7 percent in October and 8.0 a year ago, the state Department of Economic Opportunity announced Friday.

The mark is the lowest for the state since July 2008, when it also was 6.4 percent.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 7.0 percent in November.

County Administrator Len Sossamon said Hernando will continue to seek a mix of industry.

"We need to diversify our portfolio here," said Sossamon, who last week was given a six-month trial by county commissioners to handle economic development.

Sossamon said the county needs high-tech jobs and manufacturing firms that bring in high salaries.

Monroe County had the state's lowest unemployment rate in November with 3.7 percent. Hendry County, at 11.3 percent, had the highest and is the only county in Florida with double-digit unemployment in October and November. Hendry has been affected by long-term cuts in state government jobs

In surrounding counties: Pasco's unemployment rate was 7.0 in November, down from 7.3 percent in October; Citrus County weighed in at 7.1 percent, down from 7.2 percent; Sumter County remained unchanged in November at 5.5 percent.

State economists have projected unemployment will continue to drop, returning to as low as 6 percent in Florida by 2016 at the latest.

But they also continue to assert that a portion of the decline is due to people having dropped out of the work force, in addition to new jobs being created in a recovering economy.

The state Legislature's Office of Economic and Demographic Research on Monday reported that 59.3 percent of Florida's drop in unemployment was due to people leaving the labor force or delaying entry.

"If the participation rate had held steady since (December 2011), the unemployment rate would have been 8.3 percent" in October, the agency stated in a written report.

Information from The News Service of Florida was used in this report.

mbates@hernandotoday.com

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