“This report does nothing to imply that the state’s recovery has changed trajectory,” said University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith. “The recovery remains sluggish, so we’re going to have to once again ask Santa for a robust economy.”

While the unemployment rate dropped in the Sunshine State last month to 8.5 percent – the best number in almost four years — that’s still well above the national average of 7.9 percent. People who have simply stopped looking for work because they are frustrated they can’t find a job represent a significant part of the drop in the unemployment rate, Snaith explained.

“Looking only at how much the unemployment rate has dropped, you might think the pace of economic growth is rapid, but that’s not happening,” Snaith said. “And that’s because of uncertainty and the slowing national recovery.  Hiring is happening. But it’s tepid at best.”

And without a pick-up in the hiring pace, the economy will continue to be underwhelming.

Florida shaved 20,000 people from its unemployment rolls while creating 14,700 jobs in October. While some retailers said they would hire more seasonal workers for the holiday, others like big box store Target, said it would be hiring fewer people.

“It’s a mixed bag at best,” Snaith said.

Snaith is the director of UCF’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness. He is a national expert in economics, forecasting, market sizing and economic analysis who authors quarterly reports about the state of the economy. Bloomberg News has named Snaith as one of the country’s most accurate forecasters for his predictions about the Federal Reserve’s benchmark interest rate, the Federal Funds rate.

Snaith also is a member of several national forecasting panels, including The Wall Street Journal Economic Forecasting Survey, CNNMoney.com’s survey of leading economists, the Associated Press Economy Survey, the National Association of Business Economics Quarterly Outlook Survey Panel, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Survey of Professional Forecasters, the Livingston Survey, Bloomberg U.S. Economic Indicator Survey, Reuters U.S. Economy Survey and USA Today Economic Survey Panel.

The Institute for Economic Competitiveness strives to provide complete, accurate and timely national, state and regional forecasts and economic analyses. Through these analyses, the institute provides valuable resources to the public and private sectors for informed decision-making.