Duval County's unemployment rate fell to 7.44 percent in December from 8.53 percent in November and 9.07 percent in December 2011, according to state numbers adjusted for seasonal factors by University of North Florida economics professor Paul Mason.
The Jacksonville metropolitan area rate was an adjusted 7.74 percent in December, up from 7.64 percent in November but down from 9.62 percent in December 2011, Mason found.
The labor force is defined as people working or looking for work and does not include people who are not looking for jobs.
"For a change, Duval got better while the rest of the MSA got worse," said Mason. The MSA comprises Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties.
"Duval layoffs of seasonal employees did not appear as large as normal, but outside of Duval it was likely worse," Mason said.
"It may also reflect that financial employment is rebounding in Duval while service and retail businesses outside Duval are cutting back," he said.
Looking at Duval County and the metro area:
• The Duval County labor force rose slightly, by 140 positions, over the month but was down by 973 over the year. The total labor force was 447,850.The number of employed people rose by 1,509 over the month and 7,424 over the year to 412,946. The 34,904 people counted as unemployed reflected a drop of 1,369 over the month and a decline of 8,397 over the year.
• In the metro area, the labor force of 694,742 was up by 593 over the month but down 1,585 over the year. The number of employed people rose by 2,352 over the month and by 11,570 over the year to 643,526. The number of unemployed fell to 51,216 in December, down by 1,759 over the month and down by 13,155 over the year.
Duval County continues to dominate the area as the employment center. Duval County comprises 64.5 percent of the area's labor force; 64.2 percent of its employed people; and 68.2 percent of its unemployed people.
Where area counties rank
Meanwhile, the seven-county First Coast area includes the counties with the state's two highest unemployment rates.
Flagler County had the state's highest unemployment rate, not seasonally adjusted, at 11.2 percent. Putnam had the second highest rate at 10.1 percent.
Flagler and Putnam along with the five counties in the metro area comprise the JAXUSA Partnership economic-development members of the JAX Chamber.
Florida's December rate was 7.9 percent, higher than the U.S. rate of 7.6 percent
Duval's unadjusted rate was 7.8 percent, while St. Johns County had the best rate of the metro area, at 6.2 percent, tied for the fifth best in the state.
Baker County's unadjusted rate was 6.7 percent, Clay's was 6.8 percent and Nassau's was 7.2 percent
The lowest rate was 4.5 percent in Monroe County, whose county seat is Key West.
Job gains and losses
A separate state measure shows that in December, the Jacksonville metro area gained 3,800 jobs over the month and 5,300 jobs over the year.
The measure shows that over the year, the metro area lost 1,500 goods-producing jobs, comprising 1,000 fewer construction jobs and 500 fewer manufacturing jobs.
The 51,500 goods-producing jobs in the area accounted for 8.5 percent of all nonagricultural employment.
The 554,500 service-producing jobs made up the remaining 91.5 percent of area employment.
The 6,800 added services jobs included 7,100 more private-
sector jobs but 300 fewer government jobs, particularly local government jobs.
The largest job gains came in retail trade, financial activities, professional and business services and leisure and hospitality.
The largest drop came in transportation, warehousing and utilities, which lost 900 positions.
University of North Florida economics professor Paul Mason seasonally adjusted the state-reported unemployment rates for Duval County and the metro area comprising Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties.
|December 2012||November 2012||December 2011|
|5-county metro area||7.74%||7.64%||9.62%|
Duval County comprises 64.5 percent of the area's labor force; 64.2 percent of its employed people; and 68.2 percent of its unemployed people. The labor force is defined as people working or looking for work and does not include people who are not looking for jobs.
|Labor force||Employed||Unemployed||Unadjusted unemployment rate|
|5-county metro area||694,742||643,526||51,216||7.4%|
The state reported unadjusted unemployment rates in December for Florida's 67 counties. The seven counties of the First Coast included the counties with the two highest unemployment rates. The lowest rate was Monroe County, at 4.5 percent, in South Florida. The state rate was 7.9 percent and the U.S. rate was 7.6 percent.
|County||Rate by highest||State rank|
|St. Johns (tied with Wakulla)||6.2%||No. 62|
A separate state measure of nonagricultural employment found in which categories the area gained and lost jobs in December compared to December 2011.
|Category||December 2012||Difference from December 2011||% change|