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Aug 15, 11:10 AM EDT

Florida's unemployment rate remains unchanged



TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida's unemployment rate remained unchanged in July amid signs that the state's economy continues a slow, but steady recovery from the depths of the Great Recession.

New numbers released by the state show that the jobless rate was 6.2 percent last month. That's the same as it was in June and the same rate it has been for much of the year. The state's unemployment rate matches the U.S. rate.

Florida also lost 1,600 jobs in July after leading the nation in job growth the previous month. The state has added more than 208,000 jobs in the last year.

Economists have warned that as more people begin to seek jobs again, the state's unemployment rate was unlikely to drop as it had the previous three years.

Still, the flat numbers are a political setback for Gov. Rick Scott, who has made jobs a central part of his re-election campaign. He campaigned in 2010 on a pledge to add 700,000 jobs above normal growth over a seven-year period.

Whenever the state's unemployment rate dropped, Scott would contend that his policies had helped with the turnaround.

On Friday, Scott did not mention the overall monthly drop in jobs and highlighted instead that the number of private-sector jobs have increased overall.

"Every new job positively impacts a family, and today's announcement is more great news for Florida families looking to live the American dream in the Sunshine State," Scott said in a statement. "Florida continues to see positive job growth highlighting our economic recovery."

Florida currently has nearly 600,000 people out of work in the state.

An economic overview released last month by Florida's Office of Economic and Demographic Research predicted that "it will take a few more years to climb completely out of the hole left by the recession."

The two counties with the lowest unemployment rate were Walton County in the state's Panhandle and Monroe County, the home of Key West. Those counties each had a 3.9 percent unemployment rate.

Hendry County in the state's interior had the highest rate with 10.6 percent followed by Flagler County in northeast Florida with 8.8 percent.

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