BROOKSVILLE - Hernando County's unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.5 percent for March.
It was the first time this year the monthly rate did not increase. Out of a labor force of 63,549 in Hernando County, 58,128 were employed in February and 5,421 were out of work.
One year ago, the county's jobless rate was 9.2 percent, according to statistics released Friday by Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity.
Hernando County had the fourth highest unemployment rate in Florida, behind Flagler, Hendry and Hamilton counties.
County Commissioner Dave Russell said the local rate is experiencing "spurts" as the economy tries to right itself. But it's not there yet, he said.
"The economy is better, but there are still some issues out there," Russell said. "This is a very slow recovery."
The state's unemployment rate for March 2014 was 6.3 percent, up from 6.2 percent in February but down from the March 2013 rate of 7.7 percent.
For the eighth consecutive month, Florida's statewide unemployment rate remains below the national unemployment rate, which was 6.7 percent in March 2014.
Flagler County had the highest unemployment rate with 9.3 percent. Monroe County had the lowest at 3.8 percent.
Here's a look at surrounding counties' jobless rates for March:
??Citrus County, 7.8 percent (down from 7.9 percent in February)
??Hillsborough County, 6.3 percent (unchanged)
??Pasco County, 7.2 percent (unchanged)
??Pinellas County, 6.3 percent (down from 6.4 percent)
??Sumter County, 5.0 percent (unchanged)
"Florida's economic turnaround continued in March, with significant growth in private-sector jobs, high job demand and an increasing employment reflecting renewed confidence among job seekers," Jesse Panuccio, executive director of Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity, said in a news release.
Meanwhile, County Administrator Len Sossamon on Tuesday will present county commissioners with a report on economic development activities, marketing and initiatives.
The board also will consider incentives to Micro Matic USA, a manufacturer of industrial beverage dispensing equipment with a U.S. headquarters at the Brooksville - Tampa Bay Regional Airport.
The company has decided to remain in its 75,000-square-foot facility and build an additional $3 million, 40,000-square-foot plant on a separate site within the airport's adjacent technology center.
Micro Matic plans to keep its existing 135-person workforce at the Brooksville location and hire 15 full-time workers during a three-year period with an average annual wage of $34,911.
The county's financial incentives would cost $45,000, paid out in phases.