Florida’s Unemployment Rate Falling

You can thank Mickey Mouse, Florida’s beaches, and the holiday shopping season for the latest drop in the state’s unemployment rate.

Florida’s jobless rate of 8.5% is the lowest it’s been in nearly four years.

“The state is heading in a positive direction and we are thrilled,” said Carolyn Gosselin with the Department of Economic Opportunity.

Contributing to the recovery is an increasing number of tourists. 22 million of them visited Florida this summer, a 3.5% increase over the same time period last year. Industry experts say the tourism rebound has created 15,000 jobs.

“Increases in Visitors means an increase in jobs and that’s obviously very significant as we’ve had continued record years. The hospitality industry has carried our fair share in terms of increased employment in the State of Florida,” said Will Seccumbe with Visit Florida.

Retail is also expecting a surge, with economists predicting a 5.2% increase in holiday sales. Statewide stores are expected to hire 42,000 seasonal workers.

And many retailers expect sales to be so good, they will be able to hirer some of those seasonal workers full-time.

At a Sears store in Tallahassee, 40 people were added, most with good resumes and retail experience.

“The way the economy is today, we had a lot of great applicants, great qualified associates and it was actually easy to hire this year,” said Toney Fischler.

Retail and tourism are two of the state’s largest industries, which means growth in those sectors is a good sign Florida is on the right track.

While things are improving in Florida, the state’s unemployment rate is still 0.6% higher than the national rate of 7.9%. And if you factor in the underemployed and people who’ve stopped looking for work, the rate rises to 16.4%.