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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Mar. 15, 201612:00 PM EST

Jacksonville is second in Florida in job growth

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by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Jobs are growing in Northeast Florida at a much faster rate than previously thought, according to the state’s latest data on the labor market.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported Monday that Jacksonville area non-farm businesses increased jobs by 28,100 from January 2015 through January 2016, a 4.5 percent growth rate.

That made Jacksonville the second-fastest growing job market in the state, behind a 4.9 percent job increase in the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metropolitan area. Florida’s statewide growth rate was 3.3 percent in the 12-month period.

The Department of Economic Opportunity’s previous labor market report showed a 2.7 percent growth rate for Jacksonville from December 2015 through December 2016. However, when the agency issues its data for January, it recalculates the data from the previous year — which is why the January data is not released until March.

The agency also Monday said the unemployment rate for the Jacksonville metropolitan area — Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties — rose from 4.5 percent in December to 4.9 percent in January. That’s a normal trend as businesses downsize after the holiday season and the agency does not adjust the data for seasonal factors.

However, when the data is seasonally adjusted, it shows the area’s unemployment rate fell from 4.77 percent in December to 4.53 percent in January, according to the University of North Florida’s Local Economic Indicators Project, or LEIP.

Duval County’s unemployment rate rose from 4.8 percent in December to 5.2 percent in January, before seasonal adjustment.

But even after adjustment, it still rose from 4.69 percent to 4.94 percent, according to LEIP.

UNF economist Paul Mason said the outlook for the Jacksonville economy remains encouraging this year.

“I continue to believe, locally and nationally, there’s a lot of positive news out there,” he said.

However, Mason is concerned the international economic outlook is not as strong.

The Department of Economic Opportunity’s data from business payrolls shows growth in just about every major industry sector in Northeast Florida. The strongest growth is in the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 8,200 jobs in the 12 months through January, an 11 percent rise.

The construction industry also was strong, growing by 8.7 percent.

The state agency added a new industry sector to its reports this year, mining and logging. That was one of the few sectors to show no growth in the Jacksonville area, with employment unchanged at 400 jobs in the 12-month period.

Information sector jobs were also unchanged at 9,100 jobs in January.

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