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Florida unemployment dips to 6.1% in December

St. Johns County has the lowest jobless rate in state

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida’s unemployment rate dipped slightly in December but is still nearly double the jobless rate from a year ago, according to figures released by the state on Friday.

Last month's unemployment rate was 6.1%, up 3.2 percentage points from December 2019. The national rate was 6.7%, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity. The December figure was .02% lower than November's rate.

The state lost nearly 1.2 million jobs during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, but has regained more than half since the beginning of May, the department said in a media release. And while the rate has dropped in half from its peak in late spring, but it’s still roughly double where it was a year ago.

Adrienne Johnston, the department’s chief economist, pointed to continued growth in seasonal hiring.

“When we look at our November and October rates, where you start to see seasonal employment grow, this month (December) outperformed those months,” Johnston said. “So, it just generally reflects a growing confidence in businesses reopening and adding jobs and individuals going back into the labor market and finding employment.”

The Jacksonville area’s unemployment rate was 4.8% in December, down from 11.2% reported in April 2020, the highest rate during the pandemic. The industry to gain the most jobs in the Jacksonville area over the year in December 2020, increasing by 1,100 jobs.

The Jacksonville area private-sector employment decreased by 26,800 jobs (-4.0%) over the year. The industry losing the most jobs over the year was leisure and hospitality, decreasing by 10,400 jobs.

Last month there were 614,000 jobless Floridians out of a workforce of 10.1 million people. The number of people considered to be actively looking for work increased by 31,000 from November to December, but labor participation remains off from the pre-pandemic period.

St. Johns and Wakulla counties had the lowest unemployment rate at 3.6%. Putnam County had the third-highest rate at 7.2%.

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