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Jax Daily Record Friday, Oct. 16, 202010:40 AM EST

Jacksonville-area unemployment rate falls to 5.1%

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The leisure and hospitality sector lost1,000 jobs between August and September.
by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Jacksonville’s unemployment rate fell in September, but the local labor market has a long way to go to return to prepandemic levels.

The jobless rate in the Jacksonville metropolitan area (Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties) fell from 5.7% in August to 5.1% in September, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported Oct. 16.

While Northeast Florida reported slight gains in jobs last month, the number of employees on business payrolls was 26,500 lower than in September 2019, a 3.7% decline.

The Department of Economic Opportunity’s survey of households found 773,777 people in the labor force in the Jacksonville area last month, down from 797,492 in September 2019.

People are counted in the labor force if they are employed or actively looking for jobs, so discouraged workers who have stopped looking or are waiting to be recalled from long layoffs are not counted.

Jacksonville’s unemployment rate was 2.9% in September 2019.

Duval County’s unemployment rate fell from 6.3% in August to 5.7% in September. The other four counties in the metro area were between 4.1% and 4.4%.

The business payroll data shows the biggest job losses in the Jacksonville area continue to be in the leisure and hospitality sector, which declined by 12,800 from September 2019 through September 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to close.

The sector lost 1,000 jobs between August and September.

Retail trade lost 6,900 jobs in the 12 months through September.

Florida’s unemployment rate rose by 0.3 percentage points to a seasonally adjusted 7.6% in September, the Department of Economic Opportunity said.

The agency does not seasonally adjust the Jacksonville area data.

More recent data shows the number of Floridians filing for unemployment claims is creeping higher in recent weeks.

The number of new claims filed in Florida was 44,795 in the week ended Oct. 10, the highest level in six weeks, the U.S. Labor Department said.

New claims averaged about 5,500 per week in the first 11 weeks of 2020, before pandemic-related business shutdowns.

Weekly claims in Florida peaked at 506,670 in the week ended April 18.

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