Fla.'s jobless rate rises to 11.5 pct in November

AP News
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Posted: Dec 18, 2009 4:29 PM

Florida's unemployment rate continued to rise with 11.5 percent of the work force now jobless.

While unemployment dipped nationally to 10 percent in November, Florida's rate released Friday is 0.3 percentage points higher than the October rate and is now 1.5 percentage points higher than the national rate.

Agency for Workforce Innovation economist Rebecca Rust said Florida's recession began before the national downturn and was more severe because extreme growth made the later crash that much more severe.

"Because Florida became overpriced and overbuilt, it's a much more severe correction that our markets have to go through in Florida; so that is why you're seeing such a difference," she said. "The nation does seem to be recovering at a faster pace than what we're seeing in Florida."

Last month's rate is 3.7 percentage points higher than the previous November.

Since the federal stimulus package passed in February, Florida's unemployment rate has gone up by 1.9 percentage points and the number of jobless has risen by 170,000. Gov. Charlie Crist strongly pushed for the package, saying it would create jobs.

Florida reached 1 million unemployed for the first time ever in September and has not dipped below that level since. It's the state's highest unemployment rate since May 1975, when 11.9 percent of employable Floridians didn't have jobs.

The counties with the highest unemployment rates were Flagler at 16.8 percent, Hendry at 14.9 percent and Hernando and St. Lucie at 14.7 percent.

The counties with the lowest unemployment rates were Liberty at 6.1 percent, Monroe at 7.3 percent and Jackson and Wakulla at 7.8 percent.

Over the past year, Florida has lost 284,800 jobs, with construction job losses leading all other industries with 73,300 fewer jobs.

Crist was in Miami and wasn't available for comment on the figures.