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Jax Daily Record Friday, Apr. 19, 201910:46 AM EST

Jacksonville area unemployment rate falls to 3.2%

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But job growth in the region slows to 1%, lags the rest of Florida.
by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Jacksonville’s unemployment rate edged lower in March but job growth continued to be slow, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday.

The jobless rate in the Jacksonville metropolitan area (Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties) fell from 3.4% in February to 3.2% in March.

Non-farm businesses in the five-county area added 7,000 jobs from March 2018 through March 2019, a growth rate of just 1%.

That continued a slow trend throughout the first quarter of 2019, as job growth was 1.1% in both January and February.

One reason for the slowdown has been a decline in construction jobs in March for the second straight month. Construction employment dropped by 1,300 jobs in the past year, a 2.8% decline.

Construction had been an engine for job growth in Northeast Florida as the economy recovered from the financial crisis a decade ago. The February decline in jobs was the first in the sector since 2012.

Other sectors losing jobs include transportation, warehousing and utilities, down 3.2% in the 12-month period, and financial activities, down 1.5%.

The best job growth in the past year has come from the professional and business services sector, up 2,700, or 2.5%.

Jacksonville's job growth lagged behind Florida's statewide growth rate of 2.4% from March 2018 through March 2019.

Florida's statewide unemployment rate was unchanged in March at a seasonally-adjusted 3.5%.

The Department of Economic Opportunity does not provide seasonally-adjusted data for local unemployment rates.

Duval County's jobless rate, without adjustment, fell by 0.2 percentage points to 3.3% in March.

St. Johns County's unemployment rate fell by 0.1 point to 2.8%, keeping the county ranked with the second-lowest jobless rate in the state behind Monroe County's 2.3%.

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