State: Area unemployment remains unchanged
Jacksonville's unemployment rate was basically steady in July but with more people entering the labor force, that means that more people were able to find jobs.
The unemployment rate for the Jacksonville metropolitan area – consisting of Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties – was 7 percent in July, the same as June, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday.
The state agency does not adjust that data for seasonal factors, such as the influx of new job seekers in the summer as high school and college graduates enter the workforce. However, the University of North Florida's Local Economic Indicators Project said that when the data is seasonally adjusted, it shows the area's jobless rate rose slightly from 6.59 percent in June to 6.64 percent in July.
The state agency's data also shows that Duval County's unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.6 percent in July but LEIP said when the data is seasonally adjusted, it also shows a slight increase from 7.24 percent in June to 7.39 percent in July.
Although the unemployment rate didn't move, more people found jobs in July. The size of the labor force grew by almost 6,000 people last month in the metro area and most of those entrants found jobs, according to the state's data.
UNF economist Paul Mason said it's difficult to assess trends in unemployment based on summer data.
"In the summer, the unemployment rate is more volatile because of the influx of students," he said.
However, one positive trend is that Jacksonville's unemployment rate is lower than Florida's seasonally adjusted rate of 7.1 percent in July and the national seasonally adjusted rate of 7.4 percent.
"We're doing better than the rest of the country, and that's a good thing," Mason said.
The unemployment data is compiled through a survey of households. A separate survey of business payrolls also shows Jacksonville is doing better than the rest of the country.
That survey shows the Jacksonville metropolitan area added 17,900 jobs from July 2012 through July 2013, a 3 percent growth rate.
Florida's job growth rate was 1.9 percent and the national growth rate was 1.7 percent in that time period.
The rebound in the housing market is helping to fuel that growth with construction jobs in the Jacksonville area rising by 8.7 percent over the past year.
Only one sector is growing faster, professional and business services, which rose by 10.4 percent.
Two major sectors are lagging behind the rest of Northeast Florida in job growth. Manufacturing jobs fell by 1.1 percent in the 12-month period and the information sector dropped by 3.2 percent.