BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. – Newly released numbers have the Florida’s jobless rate at its lowest in more than four years, down to 7.7% for the month of February.

Erin Haag remembers the day very clearly. “Got laid off in 2008; right before Thanksgiving.” Haag says she was laid off from what she thought was a steady corporate sales job, as the company ‘downsized’.

She never expected it. Five years later and Haag is expecting – a baby girl.

When Haag was suddenly without work, she asked herself some tough questions.

“Am I going to change careers completely? Am I going to continue working for somebody else? Am I going to go into business for myself.” She chose the latter, and is now proud owner of Pilates of Palm Beach in Boynton Beach. “If I can be successful and grow a business during the worst economy ever, imagine what that business is going to be like when the economy comes back,” she said.

It is that that kind of confidence and courage that has allowed her to regain her financial footing – and even hire a small staff, which has helped to cut unemployment on the hyper-local level.

“When we started, we had one cook in the back, which was typically me,” said Lisa Mercado, owner of The Living Room restaurant.

Her eatery on North Congress Avenue in Boynton Beach has had much success in recent months. She has hired more staffers for a growing clientele. “It’s just amazing, the growth, in just a small amount of time. You’re talking three years, three and a half years.”

Mercado and Haag and other business owners are relying on themselves and each other to keep moving in the right direction.

Five female-owned businesses in the Boynton Beach area are now working together through Just Us Girls , where managers refer clientele from their business to their counterparts.

Unemployment Rates By County (February 2013)

Palm Beach County 7.4%
Martin County 7.6%
St. Lucie County 9.5%
Indian River County 8.9%