Florida's unemployment rate keeps falling, job gains continue to be weak but steady.
The state's rate dropped to 9.9 percent in December, the first time it has been under 10 percent in 2-1/2 years, the state said Friday. It's Florida's lowest rate since April 2009.
In Broward, the rate dipped to 8.6 percent from 8.9 percent in November. Palm Beach County's rate fell to 9.7 percent from 10.1 percent. In Miami, the rate rose to 10.3 percent from a revised 9.5 percent.
But statewide, only 7,300 jobs were added in December, compared to 8,500 in November, according to state data.
In South Florida, 10,600 jobs were gained from November to December, compared to 15,400 a month earlier. Since December 2010, 26,700 jobs were added in the region, compared to 30,200 in the 12 months before November 2011.
Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach added jobs mostly in leisure and hospitality, and in retail and trade. Miami added the largest number of jobs in trade, warehouse and utilities, and in business and professional services.
Florida's unemployment peak was 12 percent in December 2010, with more than 1 million state residents out of work. The 9.9 percent rate in December 2011 represents 913,000 jobless.
Many more residents are no longer counted in the official rate, because they've given up looking for work, or they're working a part-time job, though they want full-time work.