Audrey Gibson urges newly jobless to file for unemployment
Sen. Audrey Gibson in 2019. Photo via A.G. Gancarski.

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Many expected to be eligible for unemployment.

The leading Democrat in the Senate urges those rendered jobless by coronavirus shutdowns to file for unemployment promptly.

“The coronavirus has not only impacted Floridians’ health, but their ability to earn a living and provide for their families,” said Sen. Audrey Gibson.

“While Washington finalizes its relief package, it’s important that those who have lost their jobs, either through layoffs, or government mandates, begin the process of applying through the state for the unemployment benefits they’ve earned,” Gibson added.

Gibson also “looks forward to the governor revamping the DEO’s website so that anyone financially impacted by the coronavirus emergency can quickly find the information related to this disaster, and more easily complete the application process … to ensure financial help arrives as quickly as possible.”

It is uncertain whether or not the Governor will make website revamp a priority.

Estimates, however, are that many will need help.

More than 1 million Floridians work in jobs that are tied to tourism, hotels, restaurants, bars, and other places likely hit hard by the shutdowns that have come just in the past week because of the spread of the new coronavirus.

A Florida Politics analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data finds 1,189,000 Florida workers could be in jobs directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including fast-food workers, maids, bartenders, movie projectionists, and amusement and recreation attendants.

That is about 14% of the 8.6 million jobs in Florida in May 2018, the most recent BLS data available that breaks down America’s workforce by state and more than 750 specific occupations.

Hundreds of thousands more workers are in other sectors impacted by the shutdowns, but of uncertain impact for the moment, such as teachers, drivers, and recreation workers. They were not included in the Florida Politics estimate of directly impacted jobs.

The vast majority of those impacted workers are listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as working in restaurant occupations, with many more working in hotels, attractions and entertainment, according to the bureau’s “May 2018 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for Florida” data reviewed Tuesday by Florida Politics.

Those workers are facing a nearly total collapse of Florida’s tourism, lodging, hospitality, and entertainment economy.

Florida, until recent weeks, was enjoying historically low unemployment.

“Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 2.8% in January 2020, down 0.1 percentage point from the revised December 2019 rate, and down 0.6 percentage point from a year ago. Florida’s unemployment rate tied the record low of 2.8%. There were 291,000 jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 10,440,000,” a release from the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity asserted this week.

State economists were already noting a “winded” economy ahead of the COVID-19 conundrum. That may turn out to be an optimistic read.

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Florida Politics’ Scott Powers and A.G. Gancarski contributed to this post.

Staff Reports



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