Broward unemployment falls to 5 percent; Palm Beach at 6 percent

The year ended with Florida and local rates falling to their lowest levels since before or the beginning of the recession, according to state data released Friday. 

Broward County's unemployment dropped to 5 percent, the lowest since May 2008 when the rate was 4.8 percent. A year ago, unemployment was 6.8 percent.

Palm Beach County's rate fell to 6 percent compared with 7.9 percent a year ago.

Broward added 20,500 jobs over the year while Palm Beach added 13,700 jobs, Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity said.


Photos: Johnnyswim opens Broward Center's Abdo New River Room

Statewide, jobs were up by 192,900, a 2.6 percent increase.

Florida's unemployment rate in December fell to 6.2 percent from 6.4 percent in November -- the lowest rate since June 2006 when unemployment was 6 percent, the state said.

A year ago, the rate was 7.9 percent.

December's rate caps a year of lower unemployment and broader job growth.

But for Florida's unemployed who qualify for and depend on unemployment benefits, the year and this month have been even more challenging as the state's flawed online unemployment system has delayed payment to many.

On Saturday, Florida was authorized by the federal government to pay on continued claims that have been under review -- due to system issues -- for seven days. 

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity spokeswoman Jessica Sims said the payments will be made "as soon as possible," but the unemployed are still waiting.