The number of pandemic-related unemployment claims in the past week is the lowest weekly increase since the coronavirus outbreak gripped the state in March, according to Florida Department of Economic Opportunity data released this week.
There were about 55,000 new jobless filings for the week. That’s the lowest single-week increase for unemployment claims related to the pandemic since hundreds of thousands and then millions of Floridians started losing their jobs in March.
There are now a total of 4.771 million claims for employment help because of the pandemic since the beginning of the outbreak. That’s up over last week’s figure of 4.718 million.
Of course, the Thanksgiving Day week usually brings a rush of hiring to staff stores and restaurants during the traditional holiday season, even during a pandemic. But the latest weekly figure is a bright spot in what has been a bleak marker since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Florida.
For several weeks in the initial months, there were as many 500,000 Floridians applying for pandemic unemployment assistance in single weeks as businesses began to temporarily shut down or close outright due to the spread of coronavirus. An onslaught of layoffs, furloughs and terminations followed.
That weekly figure finally started to drop sharply in September hovering just above 60,000 for several weeks. October saw another surge in pandemic-related unemployment claims as that number jumped to about 108,000 in the early part of that month. The weekly figure has fluctuated between 67,000 and about 80,000 new claims each week since.
There are now 4.58 million unique claims for pandemic-related jobless filings in Florida, meaning they are not duplicates. A total of 4.485 million claims have been processed, which is about 99% of the confirmed unique claims.
Another 2.117 million claims have been paid since the onset of the pandemic in Florida, or about 97.6%.
The price tag for helping Floridians who need pandemic-related job assistance continues to climb as the tally has reached $18.853 billion. Most of that is being picked up by federal funding with $12.144 billion covered by the federal pandemic unemployment compensation and lost wage assistance program. Another $1.632 billion is being paid for by federal pandemic emergency unemployment compensation. The federal pandemic unemployment assistance program is accounting for another $1.372 billion in funding.
Florida is still kicking in a share of the cost from the impacts of the pandemic on the state’s workforce. About $3.075 billion has been covered by Florida reemployment assistance.