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South Florida Unemployment Rates Fall, but Not Much Has Changed

Broward and Palm Beach each reported that unemployment rates have dropped in recent weeks in the respective counties.

And while on the surface this appears to be good news, a lot of it is based on the number of people who have stopped looking for jobs altogether.

So, it's good news, to be taken with a bucket of salt.

In August, Broward County's unemployment dropped to 5.8 percent, while Palm Beach County saw its rate fall to 7.5 percent.

The Boca Raton-West Palm Beach metro area reportedly added 9,500 jobs in the past year.

But according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, there were about 1,000 fewer people in the Palm Beach's official labor force last month.

Still, out-of-work professionals are finding it difficult to get work in Florida.

Technology specialist Richard Clemmons of Riviera Beach has been unemployed for a year. He has supported himself by taking odd jobs, dipping into his savings, and running up credit card debt.

"It's rough," Clemmons said.

He said he has applied for "well over 200" jobs and landed two dozen interviews. Clemmons said he sees little evidence of an improving job market.

But that didn't stop Gov. Rick Scott from predictably tooting his own creepy horn, as has been his thing every time these numbers are released.

"With unemployment down in the Fort Lauderdale area by 1.9 percentage points since August 2013, it is evident that the steps we are taking to improve Florida's economy are working," Scott said in a press release. "Statewide, we have added more than 365,500 private sector jobs, and as we continue to focus on greater economic growth, we will provide even more opportunities for Florida families."

Florida's employment fell by 4,700 jobs, which amounts to 0.1 percent. Also, 131,400 jobs were added in the past year, which is an increase of 1.8 percent.

The nation's increase as a whole is 1.6 percent.

Bottom line: Growth is growth, sure. But it's nothing to drop confetti from the rafters and hire a Mariachi band over, Rick-O.

Times are still tough. Nyaa.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph

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