TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s economic recovery continued to outpace the national average in December, although there was some fluctuation in the local numbers.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity released its December employment report Friday. Florida’s statewide unemployment rate decreased to 8 percent, its lowest level since November 2008, and was closing in on the national jobless rate of 7.8 percent.
In the past year, Florida’s unemployment rate has dropped 1.9 percent while the national rate has dropped 0.7 percent.
“Florida continues experiencing growth in a number of economic indicators, including increases in housing starts, median home prices, online job ads, job placements and migration into the state,” Rebecca Rust, chief economist for the Department of Economic Opportunity, said in an email. “Florida’s long-term trends show a steady and modest economic recovery. Florida’s unemployment rate has shown significant improvement, declining from the recession high of 11.4 percent to the current 8 percent.”
Okaloosa County’s unemployment rate dropped in December. However, Walton and Santa Rosa counties increased slightly.
Okaloosa’s jobless rate dropped from 5.9 percent in November, 2012, to 5.8 percent last month. It had had the third lowest unemployment rate in Florida for December.
Walton County’s unemployment rate increased to 5.7 percent in December, which still was the second lowest rate in the state behind Monroe County at 4.5 percent. Walton County’s unemployment rate was 5.5 percent in November.
Santa Rosa County’s jobless rate increased from 7.1 percent in November to 7.2 percent in December. It tied with Nassau and Hardee counties for the 19th lowest in the state.
“You’re going to see this through 2014,” said local economist David Goetsch. “You’re not going to see major changes. We’re going to see this tepid — a little bit up, little bit back — kind of unpredictable (changes), but you’re not going to see any big numbers. The economy is improving, but it just isn’t improving strong enough to show any major numbers.”
Although Goetsch expects the numbers to stay fairly consistent in the coming months, there are factors that could change that. On Thursday, the Secretary of the Air Force implemented a civilian hiring freeze, which will affect Okaloosa more than most other counties in the state.
Contact Daily News Business Editor Dusty Ricketts at 850-315-4448 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DustyRnwfdn.