BROOKSVILLE - Numbers released Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity show a slight increase in May unemployment figures.
In Hernando County, the May unemployment rate was 8.6 percent, up from the 8.3 percent recorded in April.
According to Dave Hamilton, operations manager of the Pasco Hernando Workforce Board, the .3 percent uptick means more people are re-entering the workforce, and not a cause for serious concern.
"These blips are expected as the economy improves," said Hamilton, adding one month's numbers aren't as important than the overall trend.
Hamilton said the unemployment rate increased because more residents are encouraged enough to look for job. These prospective job-seekers might have given up on looking for work in the past and can also include recent high school and college graduates. Hamilton said 532 more Hernando County residents were employed in May than in April.
"This is a positive," said Hamilton, referencing the increase in the number of people employed, and the number of people looking for work. "This isn't the 15 percent unemployment we were seeing back in 2010."
Hamilton added that of the 57,999 employed Hernando County residents are not necessarily employed in the immediate area.
"We have a big number that leave the county each day for employment," Hamilton said.
May numbers rank Hernando County as the eighth-highest unemployment rate. Hendry County, at 11.1 percent, has the highest rate; Monroe County ranks last with an unemployment rate of 4 percent. Pasco County had 7.6 percent unemployment in May and 8 percent of Citrus County's workforce was unemployed last month.
During a Friday press conference, Gov. Rick Scott said the statewide unemployment rate was the lowest since September 2008, at 7.1 percent.
"Each month we continue to distance ourselves from the national unemployment rate, and it is clear we are succeeding in growing opportunities for Florida families to pursue the American Dream," Scott said. "Once again, Florida's unemployment rate is well below the national average. While Florida communities have experienced some incredible successes, we'll continue working tirelessly to provide jobs to families across the Sunshine State."
National unemployment rates in May were 7.6 percent, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Scott also said the state has increased the number of jobs for the last 34 months, and that the unemployment rate has dropped consistently for 31 months, with reemployment assistance claims down nearly 13 percent from May 2012.