Florida’s unemployment rate touches a 17-year high in January

According to Agency for Workforce Innovation figures, the full percentage point leap in Florida’s jobless rate – from 7.6 percent in December to 8.6 percent in January – marks a 17-year high for the state.

The figures indicated that with 355,700 job losses in January, the total number of unemployed people in the state has risen to 800,000, second only to the California numbers. The federal government’s figures of 8.1 percent increase in the country’s jobless rate – the job-losses for February being 651,000 – also happens to be the highest since late 1983.

Furthermore, going by the Florida Economic Estimating Conference’s March report, there is still no respite in sight! It has been anticipated that the state’s unemployed rate would touch 10.1 percent by the end of 2009. 
Economist Bruce Nissen, of Florida International University in Miami, said: “Florida is going to do worse than nationally and lag in terms of a turnaround.” Expecting the national economy to turnaround by late 2010, Nissen projects a mid-2011 recovery for Florida.

In the mean time, however, the only relief comes through the stimulus package - passed last month by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama - which has extended the unemployment benefits in Florida for 59 weeks. The stimulus provides $13 billion to the state, which can expectedly create nearly 200,000 jobs!