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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Sep. 26, 201312:00 PM EST

Unemployment drops in August

by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Jacksonville’s unemployment rate fell in August, mainly due to students leaving the labor force to return to school.

However, when that normal seasonal factor is taken into account, the area’s jobless rate was basically unchanged last month, the University of North Florida’s Local Economic Indicators Project said.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported recently that the unemployment rate for the Jacksonville metropolitan area – consisting of Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties – fell from 7 percent in July to 6.7 percent in August.

The state agency does not adjust its figures for seasonal factors and its data shows that the number of people in the labor force – which reflects people with jobs or actively looking for work – fell by about 10,000 in the area last month. That helped reduce the number of people classified as unemployed.

That’s consistent with the normal seasonal trend, said UNF economist Paul Mason.

“Obviously this is a typical month for when the kids go back to school,” he said.

When the data is seasonally adjusted to reflect that trend, it shows the Jacksonville unemployment rate flat at 6.66 percent in August, compared with 6.64 percent in July, he said.

Mason said the good news for Jacksonville is that the unemployment rate remains well below the national and statewide levels. In Florida, the seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell from 7.1 percent in August to 7 percent in September and nationally, it fell from 7.4 percent to 7.3 percent.

Duval County’s unemployment rate fell by 0.3-points to 7.4 percent last month, the state agency said. When seasonally adjusted, the decrease was smaller, from 7.48 percent in July to 7.36 percent in August, Mason said.

The outlying counties in the metropolitan area reported much lower unemployment rates than Duval County last month.

St. Johns County’s unadjusted jobless rate of 5.2 percent was one of the lowest in the state, with only three counties having a lower rate.

Nassau County, at 5.6 percent, and Clay County, at 5.9 percent, were also among the lowest. Baker County was at 6.2 percent.

A separate survey of employers by the state agency showed that the Jacksonville area added a total of 10,500 jobs from August 2012 to August 2013, a 1.8 percent growth rate.

That was even with Florida’s statewide growth rate over the past year and slightly higher than the national growth rate of 1.6 percent.

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