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Jax Daily Record Friday, May. 16, 201412:00 PM EST

Local unemployment rate at lowest in nearly six years

by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Jacksonville’s unemployment rate fell last month to its lowest level in almost six years, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday.

The jobless rate in the Jacksonville metropolitan area — consisting of Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties — fell from 6.2 percent in March to 5.6 percent in April. That’s the lowest level since June 2008.

Jacksonville’s April unemployment rate was better than Florida’s seasonally-adjusted jobless rate of 6.2 percent, down 0.1-point from March, the Department of Economic Opportunity said. The national unemployment rate was a seasonally-adjusted 6.3 percent last month.

The agency does not seasonally adjust the data for local areas but the University of North Florida’s Local Economic Indicators Project (LEIP) said when the latest data is seasonally adjusted, it still shows the unemployment rate for the Jacksonville area fell from 6.18 percent in March to 5.67 percent in April.

Duval County’s jobless rate fell from 6.6 percent in March to 6 percent in April, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity, and LEIP said the seasonally-adjusted rate was about the same as that.

While the Jacksonville area is benefitting from more jobs, UNF economist Paul Mason pointed out that a decrease in the labor force also contributed to the lower unemployment rate. When people are not actively looking for a job, they are not counted as unemployed, even if they want to be working.

However, economic indicators do show an improving local economy, Mason said, including a continued rebound in the housing market.

“Things are recovering,” he said.

Both Florida and the Jacksonville area increased jobs by 3.3 percent from April 2013 through April 2014, the Department of Economic Opportunity said. That was a gain of 20,100 jobs for Jacksonville.

Jacksonville’s job growth was led by a 9.4 percent increase in the leisure and hospitality sector. Also showing big gains in the 12-month period were the professional and business services sector, up 8.2 percent, and the construction industry, up 7.5 percent.

The only major Jacksonville employment sector showing a loss of jobs over the 12-month period was the government sector, which declined by 0.4 percent.

The data also showed that the banking industry was losing jobs but the overall financial activities sector had a net gain of 0.5 percent.


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