Unemployment in the Jacksonville metro area dropped last month to 4.5 percent as nearly 7,000 people found jobs and fewer people entered the workforce, data the state released Friday showed.
The area’s labor force — 835,127 people in July — had grown by nearly 50,000 since the year began, and by June the unemployment rate had risen to 5 percent because more people felt confident enough about the job market to leave their employers and look for new gigs.
But by July the share of workers who didn’t have jobs had moved closer to levels seen for most of the year, as companies hired and continued their rebound from effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s a lot of demand out there. Employers are trying to hire,” Adrienne Johnston, chief economist for Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity, said in a briefing about the new job numbers.
Where the labor force had grown in June by about 13,000 people, it added only 3,000 last month.
But the number of those with jobs in hand — 797,4400 in July — rose by 6,889 from the month before.
“To have more people entering the workforce and also see a drop in unemployment the same month is very positive economic news for our region,” said Bruce Ferguson, president of the CareerSource Northeast Florida job-placement agency.
Jobs in education and health services, financial activities and construction were major sources of hiring, and Ferguson said only one employment sector, manufacturing, lost jobs since June.
That continues a pattern that’s given Jacksonville’s five-county metro area some of the state’s strongest job increases in jobs during the past year.
The 35,300 non-farming jobs added locally since July 2020 was the fourth-highest increase (5.1 percent) out of the state’s 24 metro areas.
Like in recent months, unemployment was lower in the Jacksonville area than in most of Florida, where the statewide rate was 5.1 percent. Among the metro areas, Jacksonville’s rate was tied for fifth-lowest.
Within the metro area, St. Johns County continued to have the lowest unemployment, with a 3.6 percent rate that was Florida’s second-lowest. Nassau County followed with 4 percent, then Clay County at 4.2 percent, Baker County at 4.4 percent and Duval County at 4.9 percent.