• 9 Investigates Florida's unemployment numbers


    Channel 9 investigated the statewide unemployment numbers and found that the rate may be deceiving.

    Gov. Rick Scott's office said Florida has seen the largest unemployment rate drop of any state in the nation since late 2010.

    But investigative reporter George Spencer compared that claim to other state numbers and found it might be deceiving.

    But Scott found reason for optimism: in August his office released data showing Florida's statewide unemployment rate down 2.3 percent.

    He says it's "the largest drop of any state in the nation since December 2010."

    And his office claims it's "evidence that Scott's strategy for growing private-sector jobs is the right direction for Florida's economy."

    But some top state economists have a different explanation for the improvement, saying many unemployed people have stopped walking through doors, and dropped out of the workforce altogether.

    In other words, unemployment dropped because almost 34,000 Floridians have given up looking.

    Last week the legislatures own economists said 91 percent of the drop in the Florida unemployment rate is people dropping out of the labor force.

    If those people were still searching, the current 8.8 percent unemployment would be almost 10 percent.

    A.J. Farris, who has a graduate level degree, is among those currently searching. He feels new job creation is a better indicator and by that measure, Florida lags the majority of other states with a growth rate of less than one percent.

    "Are you seeing people drop out of the workforce?" Spencer asked.

    "Listen, I'm about to feel hopeless," said Farris.

    Scott's office didn't respond to WFTV's questions about whether focusing on the unemployment rate is deceiving. But officials said a proactive strategy to lure foreign investment will help create those critical new jobs.

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