Florida’s unemployment rate remained unchanged in December, holding steady at 4.9 percent for the second month in a row.
State officials, however, touted gains made in 2016, boasting Florida businesses created 237,300 private sector jobs in 2016.
“Over the last six years, we’ve worked each day to make it easier for job creators to invest and create new opportunities in our state, and we will continue to do everything we can to help Florida out compete other locations as the best place for jobs,” said Gov. Rick Scott in a statement.
Scott typically makes the monthly jobs announcement during a press conference, but the Naples Republican was in Washington, D.C. on Friday for the inauguration of Donald Trump.
“Today, as we proudly welcome a new president who will make job creation a top priority across our nation, we stand ready to fight for another great year of economic growth in Florida,” he said.
According to the Department of Economic Opportunity, Florida’s job growth has exceeded the nation’s rate since 2012. The agency reported December was the 77th consecutive month with “positive over-the-year growth.”
The leisure and hospitality industry continues to make the most gains, growing by 4.6 percent year-over-year.
“With more than 250,000 job openings across the state and more than 1.25 million new private-sector jobs created in the last six years, it’s clear Florida is a great place to find a good job,” said Cissy Proctor, the executive director of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, in a statement. “Our low unemployment rate and strong record of job creation prove Florida is a great state to do business.”
The majority of the state’s 24 metro areas saw gains in December compared to the same time in 2015. The Orlando metropolitan area once again led the state in private sector job growth, adding 48,300 new private sector jobs in 2016.
The Orlando area’s leisure and hospitality industry saw the largest job growth over the year, adding 16,000 new jobs over the year; followed by education and health services with 10,200 new jobs; and construction with 9,7000 new jobs.
The Orlando area, according to the Governor’s Office, had the second-highest job demand of all the metro areas in December. It also had the second highest demand for high-skill, high-wage jobs.
“As job creators continue to grow in Central Florida and all across our state, we are seeing more and more families find the opportunities they need to succeed,” said Scott in a statement. “We will keep working to build on this success and make Florida first for jobs.”
The Tampa area added 29,100 new private sector jobs in 2016, and had an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent in December. The construction industry saw the most growth over the year, adding 8,400 new jobs; followed by professional and business services with 6,700 new jobs; and trade, transportation and utilities with 4,900 new jobs. The Tampa area led the state in demand for high-skill, high-wage STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) occupations in December.
Meanwhile, Jacksonville added 22,800 private sector jobs in 2016 and had a unemployment rate of 4.4 percent in December.