Northeast Florida unemployment falls to 3%, lowest of the year

The number of residents with jobs rose slightly but the size of the labor force dropped in May.

  • By Mark Basch
  • | 11:28 a.m. June 21, 2024
  • | 4 Free Articles Remaining!
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Northeast Florida’s jobless rate fell in May to its lowest level of the year, in a month when new college graduates entering the labor market typically send unemployment higher.

The unemployment rate in the Jacksonville metropolitan area of Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties fell from 3.2% in April to 3% in May, the Florida Department of Commerce reported June 21.

The number of Northeast Florida residents with jobs rose slightly but the size of the labor force dropped in May, reversing the typical seasonal trend, sending the rate lower.

The number of people in the labor force – comprising people with jobs or actively looking for work – fell from 847,207 in April to 845,897 in May.

The 3% jobless rate was the lowest for the region since it was also 3% in December 2023. The last time the rate was lower was in May 2023, when the rate was 2.8%.

However, last year’s low rate was an increase from 2.5% in April, reflecting the normal seasonal pattern.

The Department of Commerce does not adjust local area unemployment rates in its monthly reports. The agency said Florida’s seasonally adjusted statewide jobless rate was unchanged at 3.3% last month.

All five counties in the Jacksonville metro area saw a dip in unemployment. Duval County’s rate fell by 0.2 percentage points to 3.1%, the highest of the five counties.

St. Johns had the lowest rate at 2.7%, followed by Nassau at 2.8%, Clay at 2.9% and Baker at 3%.

The Department of Commerce’s survey of non-agricultural employers found businesses in the Jacksonville area added 16,400 jobs to their payrolls from May 2023 to May 2024, a 2.1% growth rate.

That was slightly better than the 2% annual growth rate in April.

The biggest jobs gains came in the private education and health services sectors, which added 5,800 jobs in the 12-month period, a 4.7% growth rate.

The leisure and hospitality sector added 3,500 jobs, a 3.8% growth rate.

The construction industry added 2,200 jobs, representing a strong 4.4% growth rate.

While most industry sectors were growing, several reported job losses in the past year.

The administrative and support and waste management and remediation services sector had the biggest decline, dropping 1,800, or 3.1%.

The financial activities sector fell by 700, or 0.9%.

Florida added 222,200 jobs statewide in the 12-month period, a 2.3% growth rate.



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