Florida's unemployment rate drops to 3.4%

In past year, 9,400 new private-sector jobs were added in Jacksonville

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s unemployment rate dropped slightly from March to April, according to numbers released Friday by the state Department of Economic Opportunity.

The 3.4 percent April rate, down from 3.5 percent in March, represented 357,000 Floridians out of work from a workforce of 10.3 million. That was a reduction of 3,000 unemployed people compared to March.

The new numbers keep Florida below the national unemployment rate of 3.6 percent. Among the categories of jobs that did well last month were education and health services and leisure and hospitality.

The Jacksonville area added 9,400 new private-sector jobs in the past year. The area’s unemployment rate was 2.8 percent in April, down 0.4 percentage point from one year ago.

The industry with the highest growth over the year in the Jacksonville area was leisure and hospitality with 3,000 new jobs.

In April, Jacksonville was among the top five metro areas in the state for online job demand with 27,674 openings, of those, 8,469 were for high-skill, high-wage STEM jobs.

Statewide, Florida businesses created 16,000 new private-sector jobs in April 2019. Florida’s annual private-sector job growth rate of 2.7 percent continues to exceed the nation’s rate of 2.0 percent.

Florida’s unemployment rate of 3.4 percent represents a drop of 0.3 percentage point over the year. This is while 136,000 people entered Florida’s labor force, a growth of 1.3 percent in the past year.

Manufacturing and information-technology jobs showed declines. Of the state’s 24 metropolitan statistical areas, 22 have seen gains over the past year, topped by the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area, which added 44,600 jobs, a 3.5 percent increase.

The Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall area grew by 27,800 jobs, a 2.3 percent increase, and the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area added 24,700 jobs, a 1.8 percent increase. The Panama City area, which continues to recover from Hurricane Michael in October, was the only metro area to post job losses for the past year, down 1,900 positions, a 2.2 percent reduction. The Sebring area did not show a change over the year.