Today, I am honored to be in the beautiful city of Jacksonville while I meet with local business leaders from Duval and Nassau Counties to hear their thoughts on the direction of the nation as well as the local economy. As Secretary of Commerce, I oversee diverse areas from the 2020 Decennial Census and space commerce to trade negotiations and Federal weather forecasting, which is especially critical during hurricane season. For the past two years, we have worked to ensure continued job creation, economic growth, sustainable development, and improved living standards for all Americans from coast to coast – and we have been highly successful at accomplishing those goals.
Under the tireless leadership of President Donald J. Trump, my Department and the rest of the administration have been acting to fuel a vast economic resurgence. Nearly everything about the latest period of economic growth is unprecedented. More Americans are working now than ever before in the history of the country. Over the past year, approximately 2.5 million jobs were created, and, in 2018, the number of new job openings outpaced the number of unemployed workers for the first time since the job openings’ data was compiled. In the longest streak in nearly 50 years, the overall unemployment rate has remained at or below 4 percent for the past 12 months.
As important as creating new jobs is the amount of income workers are taking home. Over the last 12 months, the average American’s nominal hourly wage increased by 3.4 percent, matching the fastest pace of growth since 2009.
With the help of President Trump, his pro-jobs agenda, and leaders like Governor DeSantis and Mayor Curry, Florida is enjoying its own economic boon. From January 2017 to February 2019, the President’s entire time in office, Florida’s employment swelled, growing by over 340,000, shrinking the unemployment rate from 4.6 percent to 3.5 percent. Virtually 10 million Floridians are employed, and, as of the third quarter of 2018, statewide real GDP was on pace to grow 4.2 percent over the four quarters of the calendar year.
Nestled in the key northeast corner of Florida, Duval County is matching economic fortunes of the state, becoming a hub for growth. The unemployment rate in Duval fell from 4.9 percent in January 2017 to 3.9 percent in January 2019, while employment increased by 13,000 during the same time period.
Thank you for all you have done and will continue to do to rebuild the American economy.
Wilbur Ross is the 39th Secretary of Commerce.