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Paul Mason
Jax Daily Record Monday, Jul. 21, 201412:00 PM EST

Unemployment rate rises in Duval County

by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Jacksonville’s unemployment rate edged up in June for the second straight month, due likely to the normal influx of graduating students entering the workforce, according to data from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

However, when the data is adjusted for that seasonal factor, it actually shows the unemployment rate in Northeast Florida fell last month, according to the University of North Florida’s Local Economic Indicators Project, or LEIP.

The Department of Economic Opportunity reported that the jobless rate for the Jacksonville metropolitan area — consisting of Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties – rose from 5.9 percent in May to 6.1 percent in June.

The state agency does not provide seasonally adjusted data for the Jacksonville area but when the data is adjusted, it shows a drop in the unemployment rate from 6 percent in May to 5.66 percent in June, LEIP said.

The state agency also said that Duval County’s unemployment rate rose from 6.3 percent to 6.5 percent last month. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the county’s jobless rate rose from 5.95 percent to 6.08 percent, LEIP said.

The state’s data shows that more people in the Jacksonville area started working in June, but the increase in employment didn’t keep up with the increase in the number of people entering the labor market.

“It just suggests that some people who entered the labor force in May and June didn’t find jobs,” UNF economist Paul Mason said.

That’s a trend that typically happens in the spring as high school and college graduates start looking for work.

The Department of Economic Opportunity said that Florida’s statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 6.3 percent in May to 6.2 percent in June. Just like in the Jacksonville area, the data showed the jobless rate edging higher before it was seasonally adjusted.

The state’s survey of business payrolls shows that the Jacksonville area added a net total of 19,200 jobs from June 2013 through June 2014, a 3.2 percent growth rate. That’s in line with the statewide growth rate of 3.1 percent.

Much of the growth in the Jacksonville area has come from the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 8,000 jobs in the past year, an 11 percent growth rate.

Other fast-growing sectors include professional and business services, up 5.8 percent, and construction, up 5.1 percent as the industry continues to rebound from the recession.

Most industry sectors are adding jobs, but the finance and insurance sector declined by 1.3 percent in the 12-month period. That sector has been hit hard by layoffs in the mortgage banking industry as loan activity declines.

Government jobs have also been falling, down by 0.4 percent in the past year.

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