More than a quarter of unemployed Floridians live in the Tampa Bay region

Unemployment theme with virus craft objects
Tampa Bay trails Orlando in unemployment, but is doing worse than Jacksonville and South Florida.

The Tampa Bay region fares about the same compared to the state as a whole in unemployment, a Tampa Bay Partnership analysis of data finds. But the number of overall workers displaced represents a large share of the state’s job losses.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity released its April employment report Friday, offering the first full month look at how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting jobs.

The Partnership analysis of that data found the regional unemployment rate at 13.34% while the state rate was just one tenth of a percentage point lower.

However, 29% of all unemployed Florida workers live in the Tampa Bay region. That number is high considering it represents more than a quarter of job losses as one of the state’s four major metropolitan areas.

Jacksonville’s unemployment rate was the lowest in the state at 11.21% while Orlando’s was the highest at 16.21%. South Florida’s unemployment rate, where the brunt of the virus has stricken, was 13.24%.

Among Tampa Bay counties, Hillsborough County is faring best at 12.04% while Citrus County is the worst at 15.76%.

Pinellas County’s unemployment rate was 13.9%.

 A detailed look at industries affected shows 71.4% of reemployment assistance claims since March 1 came from industries hardest hit by the pandemic including accommodation and food services; administrative, support, waste management, remediation; retail trade; health care and social assistance; and arts, entertainment and recreation, respectively.

Yet those job sectors accounted for just 44.6% of regional jobs prior to the pandemic, highlighting particular burdens associated with non-essential business closures at the height of the pandemic.

In all, more than 245,000 Tampa Bay residents have filed a claim for Re-Employment Assistance.

The numbers are particularly stark considering their swift decline. While the latest unemployment numbers are the highest on record, they’re even more dire considering they dropped abruptly.

The post 9/11 unemployment rate peak was 6.1%, a increase that inched upward over the course of 13 months. The Great Recession peak was 11.9%, but occurred over a much longer period — 46 months.

The region’s latest unemployment crisis plummeted over just two months, going from a record low of 2.7% in February to April’s record high of 13.34%.

The Partnership analysis does not use seasonally-adjusted unemployment values, which show the state’s unemployment rate slightly lower at 12.9%.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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