Florida's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the month of December 2009 was 11.8 percent, according to information released by the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation on January 22, 2010. The figure represents 1,087,000 jobless persons out of a total labor force of 9,180,000. The December 2009 unemployment rate is 0.3 percentage point higher than the November 20009 rate of 11.5 percent and is 4.2 percentage points higher than the December 2008 rate. December's unemployment rate is the highest in the state since May 1975, when the rate was 11.9 percent.

For most of the past two years, the Florida unemployment rate has exceeded the national unemployment rate. In December 2009, the Florida rate was 1.8 percentage points higher than the national rate of 10.0 percent. The gap between the Florida and federal rates is now at its highest point since the state's economic downturn began in early 2008.

Florida's unemployment rate is the seventh-highest in the nation, exceeded only by Michigan, Nevada, Rhode Island, South Carolina, California, and the District of Columbia.

The counties with the highest unemployment rates in December 2009 were Flagler County (16.9 percent), Hernando County (14.9 percent), St. Lucie County (14.2 percent), Indian River County (14.1 percent), and Marion County (14.0 percent). The counties with the lowest unemployment rates were Liberty County (6.0 percent); Monroe County (7.2 percent); Alachua, Jackson, and Leon counties (7.7 percent each); Holmes County (8.3 percent); and Okaloosa County (8.4 percent).