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Jax Daily Record Friday, Sep. 21, 201812:11 PM EST

Jacksonville-area unemployment rate falls to 3.5 percent

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Non-farm businesses in the Jacksonville area added 21,600 jobs from August 2017 through August 2018.
by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Jacksonville’s unemployment rate fell in August as Northeast Florida continued to add jobs at a strong pace.

The unemployment rate in the Jacksonville metropolitan area (Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties) fell from 3.8 percent in July to 3.5 percent in August, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday.

Non-farm businesses in the Jacksonville area added 21,600 jobs from August 2017 through August 2018, a 3.1 percent growth rate.

Jacksonville had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. Among large metropolitan areas, only the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area had a lower jobless rate at 3.4 percent in August.

The Department of Economic Opportunity does not adjust the metro area data for seasonal factors. The agency said on a seasonally adjusted basis, Florida’s statewide unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7 percent last month.

Duval County’s unemployment rate, without seasonal adjustment, fell from 4.1 percent in July to 3.7 percent in August.

St. Johns County’s jobless rate, which edged 0.1-point lower to 2.9 percent last month, was tied with Okaloosa County for the lowest unemployment in the state.

Most industry sectors in the Jacksonville area are adding jobs, according to business payroll data. But there are some notable exceptions.

The category of management of companies and enterprises recorded a net loss of 100 jobs from August 2017 through August 2018, a 1.6 percent loss, indicating that businesses may be cutting their management ranks.

Hospital employment also declined in the 12-month period with a net loss of 300 jobs, or 1 percent.

The biggest job losses have come in wholesale trade which declined by 800 jobs, or 3.1 percent.

However, those job losses were more than offset by big gains in other industry sectors.

The leisure and hospitality sector added 5,800 jobs in the past year, a 6.7 percent gain, and retail trade increased by 3,700, or 4.7 percent.

Other service sector industries with big job gains were financial activities, up 3,300, or 4.9 percent, and administrative and waste services which added 4,800 jobs, or 8.7 percent.

In the goods-producing side of the economy, construction continued to be strong with a net gain of 1,600 jobs, or 3.6 percent.

Jacksonville’s 3.1 percent job growth rate was better than Florida’s statewide growth of 2.6 percent and the national growth rate of 1.6 percent.

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