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News Story
Updated: 11/22/2012 08:00:14AM

Polk unemployment drops

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The unemployment rate in Polk County dropped 0.7 percent from September to October and 2.3 percent in the last 12 months, but still remains over 9 percent, higher than both the state and national average.

Polk’s figures show that in October 25,450 people reported they were unemployed a drop from 27,503 reporting that in September. In October 2011 that number 31,461.

Florida’s October 2012 unemployment rate of was 8.5 percent and that fell from 8.7 in September and 10.2 percent last year. That figure in October was the lowest reported since December 2008.

The U.S. unemployment rate for October was 7.9 percent, a point up from last month’s figure of 7.9 percent but a drop from 8.9 percent last year.

The figure for the state is a hallmark of Florida Gov. Rick Scott, whose political future could hang in the balance on his 2010 campaign promise to create 700,000 new jobs in Florida in seven years.

“My number one goal is to create jobs for Florida families and get this state back to work,” Scott said Friday. “There is still more work that needs to be done, but I’m confident we’re on the right path.”

Scott’s 2014 re-election bid comes as consumer confidence is on an upswing statewide. University of Florida researchers reported that post-recession consumer confidence reached a five-year high in September and remained relatively upbeat going into last week’s presidential election.

Four Florida counties reported unemployment below 6 percent, with Monroe County the lone county reporting unemployment below 5 percent, at 4.7 percent. Walton, Okaloosa and Wakulla counties in the Panhandle were the other three under 6 percent. All have high proportions of government jobs.

Hendry County in southwest Florida reported the highest unemployment at 12.6 percent. Six Florida counties had double-digit unemployment rates in October.