Unemployment: Floridians’ first-time claims drop by almost half

Conceptual business photo is showing printed tex unemployment claim
Claims still totaled more than 110,000.

The number of Floridians filing first-time claims for unemployment compensation dropped sharply last week, though they still totaled more than 100,000, according to the latest federal report.

In the week that ended last Saturday, 110,520 Floridians filed first-time claims, according to the U.S. Department of Labor report. That compares to an adjusted total of 207,707 from the previous week, which ended May 30.

The decline could be attributed to businesses finally seeing some customers and retaining employees, after holding on for months until the state’s reopening plan sent people back out of their homes.

Yet, at the same time, the coronavirus pandemic that caused the economic meltdown has begun to reassert itself, raising growing concerns about a second wave of illness. Saturday was the third day of what is now a running streak of eight consecutive days in which Florida health officials reported more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19.

Florida’s unemployment claims generally have trended downward week after week since April 17, when an all-time-worst 506,707 Floridians’ claims were logged. The May 30 report was an unexpected increase from the 175,411 federal authorities counted from the previous week.

Still, the 110,520 claims last week would have been a record high prior to the onset of the coronavirus crisis in mid-March.

Nationally, Florida’s total was the third-highest among states last week, behind only California and Georgia.

Nationally, 1.5 million Americans filed first-time unemployment claims last week. That number is down about 19% from the previous week’s total, and far below the worst week the nation has ever seen, the last week in March, when 6.9 million Americans claimed they’d lost their jobs.

The Department of Labor’s weekly reports indicate about 2.6 million Floridians have filed unemployment claims since the third week in March, when the first economic wallop of the coronavirus crisis was dealt.

Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity’s latest report shows about 2.4 million unemployment claims, 2.2 million of which were unique, not duplicates. About 2 million claims have been processed, and about 1.3 million people have been sent unemployment compensation.

Most of the compensation Florida is dolling out has come from federal programs. Jobless Floridans now have received nearly $5 billion in compensation since mid-March, about $1.4 million of that coming from Florida’s coffers.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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