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- 2013 - November - 25th -

Unemployment rate hits 5-year low

By Mark Basch, Contributing Writer

Jacksonville’s unemployment rate fell to a five-year low in October, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday.

The unemployment rate in the Jacksonville metropolitan area — consisting of Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties — fell from 6.4 percent in September to 6.0 percent in October, the lowest level since July 2008.

The state agency does not adjust the Jacksonville area data for seasonal factors but according to the University of North Florida’s Local Economic Indicators Project, when the data is seasonally adjusted, it shows the jobless rate falling from 6.36 percent in September to 6.2 percent in October.

That’s the lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the area since September 2008.

“It’s a trend in the right direction,” UNF economist Paul Mason said.

“It would be better if the labor force was still growing,” he said.

The jobless rate dropped last month in part because of a decline in unemployment but also because the number of people in the labor force in the Jacksonville area dropped by more than 7,000.

People who have become discouraged and have stopped actively looking for work are considered not in the labor force and are not counted as unemployed.

The decline in the labor force was partly due to a normal seasonal trend of students returning to school for the fall after working through the summer.

“I also think it suggests the Christmas hiring season hasn’t taken off yet,” Mason said.

Florida’s statewide unemployment rate fell by 0.1-point to a seasonally adjusted 6.7 percent in October, the lowest rate since August 2008, the state agency said.

Duval County’s unemployment rate was higher than the overall metropolitan area, falling from 6.8 percent in September to 6.4 percent last month, the state agency said.

LEIP said on a seasonally adjusted basis, the county’s jobless rate fell from 7.03 percent to 6.56 percent.

In the metro area, Duval County’s higher rate was offset by St. Johns County, which had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state at 4.9 percent in October.

Ironically, two of St. Johns’ neighboring counties, Flagler and Putnam, had some of the highest jobless rates in the state. Flagler County was at 9.4 percent and Putnam County was at 8.6 percent.

Businesses in the Jacksonville metropolitan area reported that the number of jobs on their payrolls grew by 11,200 from October 2012 through October 2013, a 1.9 percent growth rate.

That’s lower than Florida’s statewide growth rate of 2.5 percent but higher than the national rate of 1.7 percent.

Construction jobs continued to rebound in the Jacksonville area, growing by 5.4 percent.

However, manufacturing jobs fell by 0.7 percent in the past

year.

Other sectors showing strong growth included administrative and waste services, up 12.9 percent, and retail trade, up 6.4 percent.

Sectors losing jobs included education and health services, down 2.4 percent, and wholesale trade, down 0.4 percent.

mbasch@baileypub.com

(904) 356-2466

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