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Jax Daily Record Friday, Jun. 18, 202110:35 AM EST

Metro Jacksonville’s unemployment rate falls to 4.2%

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The drop from 11% in May 2020 shows more people are finding jobs and are back at work.
by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Jacksonville’s unemployment rate fell in May as people who entered the labor force looking for work were able to find jobs.

The jobless rate in the Jacksonville metropolitan area of Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties fell from 4.4% in April to 4.2% in May, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported June 18.

The size of the labor force, defined as people with jobs or actively looking for work, rose by about 9,000 in May but the number of people who said they were employed rose by about 10,000, indicating people are finding jobs.

In a typical year, unemployment rises in May as high school and college graduates enter the labor force for the first time but in May 2021, the economy still was recovering from COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns.

Northeast Florida’s unemployment rate was 11% in May 2020 and there were about 57,000 fewer people in the labor force, indicating many discouraged workers weren’t even looking for jobs a year ago.

The Department of Economic Opportunity reported nonfarm businesses increased their payrolls by 3,800 last month to 724,400, but payrolls were up 49,900 over the year since May 2020, a 7.4% increase.

The Jacksonville economy is nearing its prepandemic level of 732,000 nonfarm jobs in February 2020.

The leisure and hospitality industry, the sector hit hardest by the pandemic, has had the biggest rebound in the past year, adding 13,600 workers since May 2020, a 21.2% gain.

The unemployment rate fell in every county in the metro area last month.

Duval County’s jobless rate inched down from 4.8% in April to 4.7% in May, the highest rate among the five counties.

St. Johns County, which fell by 0.2 percentage points to 3.2%, had the lowest rate in the area and the second-lowest unemployment rate in the state. Monroe County was the lowest at 3.1%.

Nassau County fell by 0.1 point to 3.7% and both Baker and Clay counties fell by 0.2 points to 3.8%.

The Department of Economic Opportunity does not adjust the Jacksonville data for seasonal factors. The agency said Florida’s unemployment rate fell slightly without adjustment, but the seasonally adjusted jobless rate rose by 0.1 point in May to 4.9%.

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