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Florida’s unemployment rate rises to 11.3% in July

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s unemployment rate dropped in June, it increased 1.2% in July -- reaching 11.3% with the jobless ranks -- above the national average.

The rate reflects 122,000 more people in the state applying for benefits despite Florida’s efforts to revitalize the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were 1.125 million jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 9.975 million people, according to the state Department of Economic Opportunity. Over the last four months, the state has paid $14 billion in unemployment payments to nearly 2 million people.

The unemployment rate in Northeast Florida is lower than most of the state, with the average rate the Jacksonville metropolitan area was 8.8%. The highest rates in state were in the greater Orlando area -- averaging 15.3%.

The numbers, which represent an estimate of the workforce in mid-July, showed declines in construction and manufacturing. But the numbers also indicated workers returning, or trying to return, in most other categories, including financial activities, professional and business services, education and health and leisure and hospitality.

While the number of jobless people grew, the overall workforce total was up 223,000, a sign people are interested in working, Adrienne Johnston, chief of the department’s Bureau of Workforce Statistics and Economic Research, said in a video call with reporters.

“While unemployment increased, we saw employment increase at the same time,” Johnston said. “So, that shows you that while employment increased on the household side to meet those business needs, we may have had people coming back into the labor force and not immediately have a job. That could be why unemployment also increased.”

Still, almost every field remains down from before the pandemic. Most notably, the leisure and hospitality industry remains down 254,400 jobs from a year ago.

Florida has indicated it won’t take the federal unemployment extension offered by President Donald Trump which requires the state to pick up one-fourth of the cost.

Democrats continue to implore Gov. Ron DeSantis to call a special session to address the unemployment issue.

“We have hundreds of thousands of Floridians who filed jobless claims since mid-March and have yet to receive benefits,” said state Sen. Lori Berman, D-Boynton Beach.

The governor has made it clear that won’t be on the table until after the November election.

News Service of Florida contributed to this story.