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Jacksonville Unemployment Falls Below 5 Percent; Area Adds 16,000 Jobs

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Florida has added a million jobs since 2010.

That’s according to new numbers released by the state Department of Economic Opportunity Friday.

But, other economic indicators continue to be stagnant.

Florida added more than 35,000 jobs in the month of November, including more than 16,000 in the Jacksonville area. That brings down the state unemployment rate to 5 percent and Jacksonville’s unemployment to just under that. St. Johns County is now at 3.5 percent, one of the lowest in the state.

But other data from the Department of Economic Opportunity show participation in the labor force, defined as able-bodied people working or looking for work, remains sluggish. Department Director Jesse Panuccio blames that on a number of factors.

“Long term, there is a trend in this country of falling labor force participation rate. There are many reasons for that,” Panuccio says. “Some are completely valid and OK, including many more baby boomers’ retiring, and that is a big segment of the population. Other reasons, which would just be people dropping out of the labor force, can be concerning.”

The rate of labor force participation in Florida is 5 percent lower than it was before the recession, but Panuccio says that rate is rebounding.

He will be stepping down in January to pursue a career in the private sector, and his Chief of Staff Cissy Proctor will take his place. 

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.