TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida's unemployed rate dipped to 8.5 percent in October, its lowest mark in nearly four years, the Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday.
The figure — the first since President Barack Obama's re-election last week — was an improvement from September's 8.7 percent unemployment in Florida, but remained six-tenths of a percentage point higher than the national average of 7.9 percent. Although it's the lowest unemployment rate in Florida since December 2008, there are still 790,000 eligible workers without a job.
Unemployment and job creation were a major part of the debate between Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.
It's also the 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 — home to Key West — 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.