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Jax Daily Record Friday, Aug. 17, 201812:32 PM EST

Jacksonville unemployment edges up as more look for work

UNF economist Albert Loh said the monthly labor market report indicates a growing economy.
by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Jacksonville continued to gain jobs in July but with the number of people looking for work also increasing, the area’s unemployment rate edged higher.

The unemployment rate in the Jacksonville metropolitan area (Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties) rose from 3.7 percent in June to 3.8 percent in July, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity said Friday.

The state agency does not adjust the data for seasonal factors, but the University of North Florida’s Local Economic Indicators Project said when the data is seasonally adjusted, it shows Jacksonville’s unemployment rate jumped from 3.4 percent in June to 3.77 percent last month.

However, UNF economist Albert Loh said the monthly labor market report indicates a growing economy.

“We have a moderate increase in jobs relative to a growing workforce,” he said.

The Department of Economic Opportunity’s survey of employer payrolls showed non-farm businesses added 22,100 jobs from July 2017 through July 2018 in the metro area, a strong 3.2 percent growth rate.

Although the unemployment rate rose in July, the general trend in the rate has been downward since the beginning of this year, Loh said.

“We’re still at a very low number,” he said.

Duval County’s unemployment rate rose by two-tenths of a percentage point to 4.1 percent last month, without seasonal adjustment, the state agency said. Loh said when the data is seasonally adjusted, Duval County’s jobless rate rose from 3.5 percent in June to 4.02 percent in July.

Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment fell by 0.1 point to 3.7 percent in July, the Department of Economic Opportunity said.

The agency said Florida businesses grew jobs by 2.5 percent in the 12 months through July, lower than the Jacksonville area growth rate.

The fastest-growing job sectors in the Jacksonville area in the past year were administrative and support and waste services, up 7 percent, and accommodation and food services, up 6.6 percent.

The construction industry also showed strong growth at 5.2 percent.

The Department of Economic Opportunity said the only industries in the state losing jobs in the past year are information and government.

In the Jacksonville area, federal and state government agencies have had a net decline in employment but local government jobs rose by 700, or 1.8 percent, in the past 12 months.

Just like the rest of the state, the information sector was the only major private sector industry losing jobs in the past year in Jacksonville, down 1.1 percent.

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