Jobless figures improve in September

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Special to the News Bulletin
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012 at 10:00 AM.

TALLAHASSEE — The economic recovery got back on track in September as local, state and national unemployment rates improved.

See September's unemployment figures in this PDF

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity released its September employment report Friday. It showed that jobless rates in 66 of the state’s 67 counties had either gone down or stayed even compared to August. Only Bay County’s unemployment rate increased, going from 7.9 percent in August to 8 percent last month.

“The unemployment rate has now declined or held steady over the month for 14 of the last 15 months,” said Rebecca Rust, chief economist for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “We’ve been below that double-digit level of 10 percent for 10 months, and when you look at the peak unemployment rate during the recession, it was 11.4 percent. So we’ve decline all the way to 8.7 from that time period.”

Walton County’s unemployment rate held steady at 5.5 percent, and again had the second lowest jobless rate in Florida behind Monroe County’s 5 percent.

Okaloosa County’s unemployment rate decreased from 6.1 percent in August to 5.9 percent last month, which was the third lowest unemployment rate in the state. Santa Rosa County’s unemployment rate was 7.5 percent, down from August’s 8 percent rate. Santa Rosa tied with Broward County for the 15th lowest jobless rate.

“For Okaloosa and Walton counties, you have the employed military personnel that have not been affected by this (economic downturn) and you have the retired military personnel,” said David Goetsch, a local economist. “That gives us a real static base for our economy that’s not going to fluctuate much at all. Walton and Okaloosa have been the low guys throughout this recession and the quasi-improvement.

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