Published: Mar 18, 2013 12:31 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida's unemployment dipped to its lowest level in more than four years in January when it fell to 7.8 percent, the state's Department of Economic Opportunity reported Monday.
    
Florida's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate hasn't been that low since November 2008 when it also stood at 7.8 percent. It was also the first time that Florida's jobless rate bell below the national rate in five years. The national unemployment figure for January stood at 7.9 percent.
    
Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who has staked his political future on creating jobs, was quick to applaud the report.
    
"Everything we do is geared toward job creation," Scott said in a news release from his office. "Today we have more proof that it's working."
    
The press release capitalized the "it's working" in the statement, a central theme of the governor's State of the State speech earlier this month.
    
Florida is among 32 states that experienced statistically significant positive changes in their employment in the past year. Texas led the way with 310,000 new jobs, followed by California with 254,900 and Florida third at 127,500, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    
Florida's January rate was down slightly from December's revised rate of 7.9 percent. DEO noted that 740,000 Floridians remained jobless.
    
"Our work isn't done until every Floridian who wants a job can find one," said Scott, who is pushing the Legislature to eliminate the sales tax on manufacturing equipment in hopes of attracting more companies to Florida.
    
Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys in the southernmost part of the state, had the lowest unemployment with a 4.6 percent rate, followed by Walton County in the western Panhandle at 5.6 percent.
    
Largely rural Hendry County in southwest Florida had the highest unemployment rate in January at 11.4 percent followed by Flagler County along the eastern seaboard with 11 percent. Six Florida counties reported double-digit unemployment rates for January.
    
The trade, transportation and utility industries gaining the most jobs in Florida - some 35,500 - over the past 12 months.
    
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Associated Press Writer Gary Fineout in Tallahassee contributed to this report.

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