Metro rate drops to 3.8 percent as area adds 23,400 jobs.
By Mark Basch, Contributing Writer
Jacksonville’s unemployment rate continued to fall in May, a good sign for the economy as the summer hiring season began.
The jobless rate in the Jacksonville metropolitan area (Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties) fell from 3.9 percent in April to 3.8 percent last month, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday.
The size of the labor force surged by nearly 8,000 people in May, a normal seasonal trend as new college and high school graduates begin looking for jobs.
However, the increase in employed people matched the growth in the workforce, so the unemployment rate dropped.
University of North Florida economist Albert Loh said data show average hourly earnings is declining.
“That suggests a lot of the jobs are entry level,” he said.
But the fact that new graduates are finding jobs is “a very good sign,” he said.
The Department of Economic Opportunity does not adjust the Jacksonville data for seasonal trends but UNF’s Local Economic Indicators Project reported when the data is seasonally adjusted, it still shows a drop from 3.94 percent to 3.83 percent in May, Loh said.
Jacksonville’s unemployment rate remains at its lowest level since the last recession began in 2007.
Duval County’s unadjusted unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1 percent last month, the Department of Economic Opportunity said.
But LEIP reported the seasonally adjusted rate fell from 4.28 percent in April to 3.69 percent in May.
A separate survey of non-farm businesses by the Department of Economic Opportunity showed job growth picked up in May after a brief blip in April.
Jobs on employer payrolls rose by 23,400 from May 2016 through May 2017, a 3.5 percent growth rate.
That’s up from a 2.9 percent growth rate in April.
Every major industry sector reported an increase in jobs over the last 12 months.
The professional and business services sector had a 6.1 percent rise in employment but within that classification, the sub-sector of professional and technical services fell by 4.6 percent.
That was the only private sector drop in jobs anywhere in the May report.
Jacksonville’s job growth rate was higher than Florida’s statewide growth of 2.7 percent in the 12-month period.
Jacksonville’s unemployment rate also was lower than the rest of the state.
Florida’s overall unemployment rate fell by 0.2-percentage points to a seasonally adjusted 4.3 percent in May, the Department of Economic Opportunity said.