TAMPA — The unemployment rate for Tampa Bay, including St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Tampa, showed solid improvement in January over the same month a year ago. Tampa Bay's unemployment rate in January was 8%, compared with 9.8% in January 2012, according to newly released state data. But on a monthly basis, the region's unemployment rate increased slightly, from 7.9% in December.
Across the state, the January unemployment rate dropped below the national average to 7.8%, and declined from the revised December 2012 rate of 7.9%. The January rate marked Florida's lowest unemployment rate since November 2008. It was also the fist time the state's jobless rate fell below the national average since January 2008, according to a statement from Gov. Rick Scott. Florida has experienced positive annual job growth for 30 consecutive months, he says.
Along the Gulf Coast, the North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota region registered a 7.9% unemployment rate in January, according to the state's charts. That was also an improvement from the 9.5% unemployment rate of January 2012. But it marked an uptick in unemployment from December, when the rate was 7.7%.
The Naples-Marco Island area had the brightest jobs picture, with an unemployment rate of 7.5% in January, compared with 8.7% in January 2012, and 7.5% in December.
The labor force in Tampa Bay numbers 1.3 million. In the Bradenton-Sarasota region it is 302,971, and in the Naples-Marco Island area, Collier County, the labor force totals 151,039, according to the newly released data. The unemployment figures were not seasonally adjusted, according to officials.