Recovery ‘noticeably slowed’ in September, UNF economist says

Duval County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate falls to 6.02%.

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  • | 3:36 p.m. October 16, 2020
University of North Florida economist Albert Loh.
University of North Florida economist Albert Loh.
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Jacksonville’s labor market continued to improve last month, but the recovery “noticeably slowed,” University of North Florida economist Albert Loh said Oct. 16.

UNF’s Local Economic Indicators Project said the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the Jacksonville metropolitan area fell from 5.84% in August to 5.23% in September.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported Oct. 15 the jobless rate for the five-county area of Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties fell by 0.6 percentage points to 5.1% last month, but the state agency does not adjust the data for seasonal factors.

One major seasonal factor affecting the labor market in August and September is school reopenings, but the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting that trend this year.

“The increase in employment (in September) is mostly due to the public schools resuming classes for the fall semesters, which was not fully reflected in August due to delayed opening dates in local school districts,” Loh said.

Duval County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 6.33% in August to 6.02% last month, Loh said. The Department of Economic Opportunity said the rate, without seasonal adjustment, fell by 0.6 points to 5.7%.

The Jacksonville area unemployment rate in September was close to its natural rate of 5%, but “there is still a way to go before getting to the pre-pandemic level, when the unemployment rate was 2.9% a year ago,” Loh said.

“Additional recovery is expected to be increasingly difficult, since many restrictions imposed for necessary public health consideration remain in place, and some attrition in business is likely permanent due to the changed nature of the business environment,” he said.