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Jax Daily Record Monday, Aug. 22, 201612:00 PM EST

New jobs couldn't keep up with people seeking work

by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Jacksonville’s unemployment rate rose in July despite an increase in jobs, as the gains couldn’t keep up with the number of new people looking for work.

The unemployment rate in the Jacksonville metropolitan area — consisting of Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties — rose from 4.8 percent in June to 4.9 percent in July, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday.

The state agency does not adjust the Jacksonville data for seasonal factors and unemployment usually rises in the early summer as college and high school graduates enter the labor force for the first time.

However, even when the data is seasonally adjusted, it shows the area’s unemployment rate rose from 4.41 percent to 4.86 percent last month, the University of North Florida’s Local Economic Indicators Project reported.

“Usually after June, unemployment should taper off for several months,” UNF economist Albert Loh said.

“This increase in the unemployment rate in July is a little surprising,” he said, but added we still could see the rate start to drop in late summer.

Duval County’s unemployment rate also rose by 0.1 percentage point to 5.3 percent last month, the Department of Economic Opportunity said. When seasonally adjusted, the rate rose from 4.66 percent to 5.2 percent, according to LEIP.

St. Johns County’s unemployment rate also edged up by 0.1 percentage point, without seasonal adjustment, but at 3.8 percent it was still the second-lowest rate in the state. Monroe County has the lowest unemployment at 3.3 percent.

Florida’s statewide unemployment rate was unchanged in July at a seasonally adjusted 4.7 percent, the Department of Economic Opportunity said.

A separate survey of non-farm business payrolls by the state agency showed the Jacksonville area added 22,900 jobs from July 2015 through July 2016, a 3.6 percent growth rate.

The increase included a big jump in the construction industry, which grew by 4,000 jobs, or 11.2 percent.

Every major industry sector has been adding jobs except the information sector, which had a net loss of 300 jobs in the past year, or 3.2 percent.

The decline in the information sector has been a continuing trend not only in Jacksonville but in all of Florida. Statewide, the sector declined by 2,300 jobs, or 1.7 percent, in the past year.

Florida’s statewide job growth rate was 3.1 percent in the 12 months through July.

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