TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ Florida's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate worsened in November with nearly one of every eight eligible workers jobless, state labor officials reported Friday.
Twelve percent of Florida's eligible work force, which translates to more than 1.1 million people, did not have jobs last month, the state Agency for Workforce Innovation said.
It wasn't the news that either officials or the unemployed had hoped for with the holidays at hand.
State economist Rebecca Rust said last month that anecdotal reports indicated that holiday season hiring from October through December could create 40,000 additional jobs, but that apparently didn't materialize in November.
Gov.-elect Rick Scott called the 12 percent rate “inexcusable and further proof that reform is needed.
“We need to put jobs first and make sure all government expenditures are justified,'' Scott said Friday. “I am committed to getting Florida back to work by making Florida the best place to do business.''
Florida's unemployment rate stood at 11.9 percent in October and the bleak November figures were far worse than the national unemployment average of 9.8 percent.
The tax-cut bill that went to President Obama on Friday extends unemployment benefits, but not for those who have exhausted them. In Florida, 105,011 people have run out of unemployment benefits.
“We are prepared to immediately begin processing payments as soon as the president signs the bill,'' AWI Director Cynthia Lorenzo said Friday.
Friday's gloomy unemployment report comes on the heels of another by legislative economists that tax revenues continue to fall and that Florida's economy will recover from the recession more slowly than hoped.
That revision announced Tuesday adds at least $1 billion to a potential $2.5 billion budget shortfall for the next fiscal year, another economic challenge for Scott, who will use the revenue estimates to formulate his budget recommendation to the Legislature.
Officials noted that the counties with the lowest unemployment rates were those with relatively high proportions of government employment. Rural Liberty County in the Florida Panhandle, home to a state prison, reported the lowest unemployment in the state with 8.1 percent of eligible workers looking for jobs last month.
The agency says 55 of Florida's 67 counties reported double-digit unemployment in November, up from 48 in October when Florida's unemployment rate stood at 11.9 percent for the second straight month.
Hendry County in southwest Florida continued to have the highest unemployment with 17.9 percent of its work force idled.
State economists predicted double-digit unemployment would continue in Florida until sometime during the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2012, just as the presidential campaign rolls into high gear.