TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity showed Florida’s job growth was close to half of all new jobs for September 2021 in the United States.

On Oct. 8, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a national job growth of 194,000 in September 2021. Florida alone had 84,500 new jobs that same month. The job growth in Florida is equal to 43.5% of jobs added in September across the U.S.

Citing Florida’s economic policies amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state’s growth was only the fourth time the state had seen such expansion in three decades.

“While the entire nation gained 194,000 jobs in September, Florida gained 84,500 jobs in the same month – we are outpacing the nation in job growth and job opportunities because businesses know that Florida will stand up for them,” said DeSantis in an announcement on Friday. “Despite tremendous national headwinds and economic uncertainty, Florida has reached a level of job growth only seen on four other occasions in the past 30 years. We will continue to work hard to keep Florida open, free and built for opportunity.”

Across the U.S., BLS stats report Florida had the second highest number of jobs added in September in all 50 states. Texas had the most jobs added, with 95,800 new jobs, and California ranked third with 47,400 jobs added. Florida’s growth was the “largest percentage increase,” according to BLS.

A release from the governor’s office said the September 2021 numbers were the result of 17 consecutive months of job growth, making Florida grow three times faster than the U.S.

“This month marks 17 months of private-sector job growth, increasing by 5.6% over the year,” according to the governor’s office. “In addition, Florida has experienced 11 consecutive months of labor force increases, adding 50,000 workers over the month. Florida’s labor force growth represents a 5.4% increase over-the-year, which is significantly higher than the national rate of 0.8%.”

Unemployment numbers released by the BLS show that Florida’s unemployment rate fell 0.1% to hit 4.9%, down from 5% in August.

Nationally, the unemployment rate is currently 4.8%, a 0.4% drop from August. In Florida, the labor force has grown to 10,593,005 in the past month, up from 10,543,063 in August and almost 600,000 workers more than September 2020. The state has added about 524,000 jobs since January 2021.

Florida’s Secretary of Transportation said a lot of the growth is in fields such as transportation.

“We’re seeing a lot of transportation growth, job growth, and we’ve got to continue to invest in that,” said Kevin Thibault, Secretary, Florida Department of Transportation. “Right here in Port Manatee, we invested in new cargo cranes, warehouse improvements, and we have made improvements to roadways to get goods back to market.”

Thibault said investments to highways, river roads, and improvements on I-75 are adding to a push for expanding the Tampa Bay area. At previous events distributing checks from the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, DeSantis and other state leaders gave funding awards for programs to train a transport and construction workforce, as well as improve existing infrastructure in areas like Polk County and St. Pete Beach.

The expansion to Tampa Bay mentioned by Thibault comes as the DEO says Tampa gained the most private sector jobs of any metropolitan area in the state in September.

Tampa saw a reported 7.2% increase in private-sector jobs over the past year, and the unemployment rate in the area dropped to 3.9%, according to DEO. The unemployment rate in Tampa is lower than both the state and national rates by at least 1%.

Still, new data shows that while Florida’s industries are recovering, with state leaders emphasizing leisure and hospitality adding 26,600 new jobs, and trade, transportation, and utilities with 19,200 new jobs, other economic data reported a 6.4% drop in employment for leisure and hospitality, nationally.

BLS said the 6.4% drop, equaling 164,000 jobs, in August was a record high for so-called quits in the industry. Quits rates for trade, transportation and utilities in August across the U.S. also reached all-time highs at 3.7%, according to BLS.

The data recorded for industry quits comes from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey conducted by the Bureau.

While job numbers continue to increase in Florida, Gov. DeSantis has announced plans to call a special legislative session aimed at protecting Floridian workers from COVID-19-related terminations as state leaders push back against vaccine requirements promoted by the federal government.

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