After a strong labor market throughout 2022, holiday hiring pushed Jacksonville’s unemployment rate to a record low in December.
The jobless rate in the Jacksonville metropolitan area of Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties dropped from 2.5% in November to 2.1%, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported Jan. 20.
The previous low in the agency’s records, which date back to 1990, was 2.2% in April 2022.
The agency does not adjust the Jacksonville data for seasonal factors, and December is normally a month when unemployment falls as businesses beef up staffs for the holidays.
Florida’s statewide unemployment rate, which is seasonally adjusted, fell by 0.1 percentage point to 2.5% in December.
Jacksonville’s labor force, consisting of people with jobs and people actively seeking employment, grew by about 5,000 in December to 847,564. But the number of employed rose by about 8,000, indicating people who sought jobs were able to find them.
Nonagricultural businesses in the Jacksonville area added 7,600 workers to their payrolls in December, bringing the total to 798,200.
Those businesses added 43,400 jobs from December 2021 through December 2022, a 5.7% growth rate.
The Jacksonville rate exceeded the statewide growth of 4.8% for 2022.
For the full year, the biggest job increases in Northeast Florida were 14,700 jobs in professional and business services, a 12.1% growth rate.
Leisure and hospitality jobs continued a strong comeback from coronavirus-related shutdowns with a gain of 10,900 jobs, or 13.5%.
Duval County’s unemployment rate fell from 2.6% in November to 2.3% last month, the highest of the five counties in the metro area.
St. Johns County, which fell from 2.2% to 1.8%, had the third-lowest rate among Florida’s 67 counties, behind only Miami-Dade County and Monroe County which were both at 1.4%.
The other three counties in the Jacksonville area were all at 2% in December.