Florida jobless rate matches all-time high

7:41 AM, Mar 11, 2010   |    comments
Unemployed people line up for claim forms.
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Tallahassee, Florida -- Florida's unemployment rate has matched the state's all-time record high since labor statistics began in 1970.

Florida's unemployment rate hit 11.9 percent in January. The last time it climbed that high was in May, 1975. That means 1.1 million Floridians are out of work and more are expected to lose their jobs this year.

Economists predict the jobless rate will peak at 12.3 percent in the third quarter this year.

Florida has lost more than 300,000 jobs over the past year. Only California has lost more jobs in that period.

Economist Rebecca Rust of the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation says most of the job losses have come in construction, trade and professional and business services.

"Florida started losing jobs in April of 2007 after reaching our peak employment of March 2007. By January 2010 the current numbers we're releasing today compared to that peak month, the state has lost 926,100 jobs."

Rust says unemployment is expected to keep rising this year.

"The peak unemployment rate is now forecasted to be 12.3 percent. And that's forecasted to be reached in the third quarter of 2010. So they are forecasting that our unemployment rate could continue to increase later on this year."

Rust says a lack of confidence among businesses and consumers and a lack of credit are hurting the economy. However, she says there are some encouraging economic indicators nationally.

Consumer spending is rising, businesses are making more capital purchases, retail sales are climbing and so are exports. Home sales are up and home construction is on the rise.

Florida's unemployment rate is currently seventh highest in the nation. Michigan has the highest at 14.3 percent.

Dave Heller, 10 Connects

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