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Jax Daily Record Friday, May 22, 202010:40 AM EST

Jacksonville metropolitan area unemployment surges to 11.2% in April

Almost half of the losses came in the leisure and hospitality sector; construction gained jobs.
by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Jacksonville’s unemployment rate jumped to a 10-year high in April, as the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the labor market.

The jobless rate in the Jacksonville metropolitan area (Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties) rose from 4.3% in March to 11.2% in April, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported May 22.

That’s the highest rate since three months in 2010, when the rate was 11.2% as the U.S. economy was recovering from the 2007-09 recession.

Jacksonville area nonfarm businesses reported a loss of 77,400 jobs from their payrolls from March to April, a 10.6% decline.

Almost half of the job losses came in the leisure and hospitality sector, which fell by 36,500, or 43%.

While nearly every industry lost jobs, construction increased employment with a net gain of 200.

More jobs have been lost since the government’s April survey on unemployment, which is conducted in the middle of the month.

While unemployment insurance claims data is not available for Northeast Florida, the U.S. Department of Labor reported 1.6 million new claims filed by Floridians in the five weeks ending May 16.

Since businesses began shutting down in mid-March because of the pandemic, 2.2 million Floridians have filed new unemployment claims.

Florida’s statewide unemployment rate rose by 8.5 percentage points in April to a seasonally adjusted 12.9%, the Department of Economic Opportunity said.

While Jacksonville’s jobless rate rose sharply, it was the third-lowest of 24 metropolitan areas in Florida.

Only Tallahassee, at 8.1%, and Gainesville, at 8.9%, were lower. The state agency does not adjust metro area data for seasonal factors.

Duval County’s unemployment rate rose by 7.8 percentage points last month to 11.3%.

St. Johns County, which has been recording one of the lowest rates in the state for several years, jumped higher than Duval County, going from 3.7% in March to 11.6% in April.

Baker County had the lowest unemployment rate of the five counties in the metropolitan area at 7.6% in April. Clay County was at 10.2% and Nassau County was at 12.4%.

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