Nov. 22--Unemployment rates in Palm Beach County and across the state reached new five-year lows in October, the state announced Friday. Florida also led the nation in monthly job growth, another sign of solid economic rebound.
The county's rate was 6.7 percent in October, 1.7 percentage points lower than the 8.4 percent rate of a year ago. The rate was 7.1 percent in September.
"A lot of the jobs in this recovery have been in leisure and hospitality and retail, but this month's report is showing some strength in better-paying sectors," said Sean Snaith, economist for the University of Central Florida.
Florida had the largest over-the-month increase in employment -- 44, 600 jobs -- according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was the strongest growth since June 2006, the state said.
In South Florida, retail and hospitality employment led the job growth, but there also were jobs added in professional and business services, finance and education and health services.
Statewide, the unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent in October -- the lowest in more than five years -- and 0.1 percentage point lower than September. The rate was 7 percent in August when the data was last reported. A year ago, Florida's unemployment was 8.2 percent.
The last time Florida's rate was 6.7 percent was in August 2008, the state said.
The job growth in September and October "is another successful chapter in Florida's turnaround story," said Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Director Jesse Panuccio. He said job growth was up in all sectors statewide, including manufacturing.
Compared to October a year ago, the number of jobs in the state was up by 182,200, an increase of 2.5 percent.
Florida gained the most jobs in the trade, transportation and utility sector, which is mostly retail: 56,300 jobs were added since October 2012. Leisure and hospitality gained the second-largest number of jobs, 38,500 since last October.
There were 625,000 jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 9.4 million.
Panuccio also said Friday that Florida's new online unemployment benefits system, Connect, was moving on from fixing technical glitches to addressing a backlog of claims that have been disputed or were being appealed.
South Florida's unemployed drawing benefits have complained that they have had trouble filing with the new system and are rarely able to reach DEO over the phone to correct issues. As a result, some have seen their payments delayed.
And for the unemployed with claims appeals or other issues, the process has been particularly slow, he sid.
"It is something we're working through," Panuccio said.
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Original headline: Florida leads in job growth; South Florida's unemployment drops
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