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Jax Daily Record Friday, Aug. 16, 201912:26 PM EST

Northeast Florida unemployment rate steady in July; Construction hiring picks up

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Area unemployment rate was 3.5% in July, unchanged from June.
by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Jacksonville’s unemployment rate held steady in July as many new entrants into the workforce were able to find jobs.

The jobless rate in the Jacksonville metropolitan area (Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties) was 3.5% in July, unchanged from June, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity said Friday.

The size of the labor force in the metro area grew by about 6,000 people in July, a normal summer seasonal trend as college and high school graduates look for work.

Many of those job seekers were able to find work, but University of North Florida economist Albert Loh said in a normal summer, he would expect more hiring.

Loh said the labor force typically begins to grow in June, sending the jobless rate higher. But then the rate comes down in July as new graduates find jobs.

This year’s data suggests after businesses hired more workers in the spring, “we have fewer positions to fill relative to the growth in the workforce,” he said.

The state agency does not adjust the Jacksonville data for seasonal factors, but UNF’s Local Economic Indicators Project said when it is adjusted, the area’s unemployment rate rose from 3.21% in June to 3.47% in July.

Duval County’s unemployment rate without adjustment also was unchanged at 3.7% last month, the Department of Economic Opportunity said.

When seasonally adjusted, Duval County’s unemployment rose from 3.32% in June to 3.63% in July, Loh said.

Non-agricultural businesses in the Jacksonville area added 19,600 jobs to their payrolls from July 2018 through July 2019, a 2.8% growth rate, the Department of Economic Opportunity said.

Construction hiring picked up after a winter slowdown.

The number of construction jobs in Northeast Florida rose by 4,000 in the last 12 months, a 9% growth rate.

Other sectors with big job gains include leisure and hospitality, up 5,100 or 6%; education and health services, up 4,500 or 4.3%; and professional, scientific and technical services, up 3,100, or 6.8%.

However, some industries are losing jobs.

The transportation, warehousing and utilities sector lost 1,600 jobs in the 12-month period, or 4.3%; finance and insurance lost 300 jobs, or 0.5%; and information lost 100 jobs, or 1.1%.

Florida’s statewide job growth rate was 2.6% percent from July 2018 through July 2019, with the number of jobs on non-farm business payrolls exceeding 9 million, the Department of Economic Opportunity said.

The agency said the statewide unemployment rate was a seasonally adjusted 3.3% in July, down 0.1 percentage point from June.

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