The Jacksonville area saw the lowest unemployment rate in 10 years in April, according to state jobless figures released Friday.
Both the First Coast and Florida unemployment rates for April saw another decline in the jobless figures for the third straight month..
Numbers released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity released Friday show the April state unemployment rate dropped to 4 percent, falling from the 4.5 percent rate in March before seasonal adjustments. The First Coast area saw the unemployment figure go from 4.1 percent in March to 3.8 percent in April before seasonal adjustments, which is a level that hasn’t been seen since the beginning phases of the Great Recession.
Albert Loh, chairman of the economics department at University of North Florida, said the First Coast unemployment rate dipped below 4 percent for the first time in a decade.
“The job market remained very strong in the Jacksonville area in April, with the unemployment rate falling below 4 percent for the first time since May 2007,” Loh said. “There were significant job gains in wholesale, retail, accommodation and food services [industries].”
The state and First Coast figures are lower than the national unemployment rate, which fell from 4.6 percent in March to 4.1 percent in April before seasonal adjustments.
Even after seasonal adjustments, which take into account factors such as increased hiring in the spring, the state unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent in April, down from the March unemployment rate of 4.8 percent. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the Jacksonville area went from 4.2 percent in March to 3.84 percent in April.
It’s the third month in a row that the state and First Coast area saw unemployment rates drop. The streak of upbeat jobs news comes after a rocky start to 2107 when the January figures brought an uptick in the unemployment rates.
The First Coast’s unemployment rate for April is down from a year ago when the jobless figure was 4.4 percent. The First Coast area includes Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties.
“Jacksonville area businesses created 19,000 jobs over the year in April, which means thousands more Floridians have opportunities to get real jobs and provide for their families,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a prepared statement.
The transportation and utilities sector had the most job growth on the First Coast in the past year with about 4,700 jobs created. The education and health services industry came in a close second on the First Coast with about 4,600 jobs created in the past 12 months.
Duval County, the First Coast’s largest employer, saw the monthly jobless figure drop from 4.4 percent in March to 4.1 percent in April; that was the area’s highest unemployment rate. St. Johns County posted the lowest jobless figure on the First Coast at 3 percent in April, down from the March figure of 3.3 percent.
In other economic news, Loh released the monthly Consumer Price Index for the First Coast on Friday, which showed an increase from 120.39 in March to 123.41 in April. Loh said that was a substantial change.
“The increase appears to be driven by the rising housing index … although prices in many other goods and services have fallen,” Loh said.
That CPI increase reflects an increase in core inflation that went up by 2.5 percent in April, Loh said.
The CPI is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services. UNF’s first CPI figures were collected in December 2001, when the rate was 100. The monthly CPI number is the comparison to that rate.
Drew Dixon: (904) 359-4098.