Unemployment rate dips below 10 percent

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ORLANDO, Fla.,None —

For the first time in two and half years, Florida's unemployment rate dropped below 10 percent.  The state's jobless rate dipped to 9.9 percent in December, and in the metro Orlando area the rate fell to 9.4 percent.

An economic forecaster told Eyewitness News reporter Melonie Holt that the drop in the unemployment rate is a step in the right direction, but we are still in a deep hole.

“It's just overwhelming,” said Miriam Marinaro, job seeker. “There are just so many people out of work.”

Marinaro has job skills, most recently as a sales assistant and a public relations specialist.  What she doesn't have is a job.

“I don't have the luxury of getting disgusted. I have to eat, I have bills and through all of this I have maintained myself,” said Marinaro.

However, as Marinaro explained to Holt from the Crisis Center at the Community Food and Outreach Center in Orlando, that is getting harder to do.  And from where she is sitting, there is not as whole lot of difference between a 10 percent and a 9.9 percent unemployment rate.

“I think they need to not just look at the numbers, they need to look at the people,” said Andrae Bailey of the Community Food and Outreach Center.  “What we're seeing is the depth and breadth of their crisis and their circumstances continue to get worse.”

University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith said the drop in unemployment may provide some psychological comfort, but our recovery is a slow one.

“We've lost a lot of jobs. 9.9 % is still a painfully high unemployment rate,” said Snaith.

Snaith added that the rate that doesn't take into account underemployment, or people who have just plain given up searching for work.

Governor Scott credits recent gains on lower taxes and less regulation, but Snaith told Eyewitness News that more jobs must be added in order to stabilize housing, which would bolster consumer confidence.

“There's no magic policy, there's no panacea. This is going to take some time,” said Snaith.

Snaith told Eyewitness News that it will probably be 2015 before unemployment numbers recover to their pre-recession levels.