Florida ended 2016 with an unemployment rate that was unchanged in December and 0.2 percentage points lower than at the start of the year.
The monthly jobless mark of 4.9 percent for December, the same as November, represented 491,000 Floridians who qualified as unemployed from a workforce of 9.95 million, the state Department of Economic Opportunity said Friday.’
Monroe County (the Keys), which started 2016 with the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 3.3 percent, maintained the best mark at 3.0 percent last month. Hamilton County followed with a 3.4 percent unemployment rate. St. Johns County, which started the year at 3.8 percent, was third-lowest in December with a 3.6 percent mark.
Rural Hendry County throughout the year retained the highest jobless rate. The inland county southwest of Lake Okeechobee started the year at 8.4 percent and ended 2016 at 8.0 percent. Hendry was followed by Citrus County, which started the year at 7.2 percent and stood at 6.7 percent in December. Sumter County went from 7.3 percent to 6.6 percent.
Statewide, the unemployment rate at the end of 2015 was 5.1 percent, with an estimated 493,000 Floridians out of work. The labor force has grown by 223,000 people since the start of the year, with top increases in the fields of education and health services, hospitality, and professional and business services.
The national unemployment rate in December stood at 4.7 percent, down from 4.9 percent when the year began.