Florida jobless claims at pandemic low

In this, Wednesday, May 6, 2020 photo, a now hiring sign is displayed on a street corner in North Miami Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – New unemployment claims in Florida hit a pandemic low last week, with an estimated 11,700 claims coming in.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s estimate for Florida for the week ending March 27 was down from a revised count of 17,349 for the week ending March 20. The federal agency initially projected 13,892 were filed the week ending March 20.

Nationally, 719,000 claims were filed last week, an increase of 61,000 from the prior week.

Last week marked the lowest total for the state since 74,313 claims were filed during the week ending March 21, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic crashed into the state. Florida had 6,463 claims during the week ending March 14, 2020.

Florida has been averaging just under 20,000 new claims a week since the start of February, following a brief surge in January as layoffs occurred at places such as theme parks in Central Florida. The January numbers peaked at 69,140 new claims during the week ending Jan. 30.

Since March 15, 2020, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has paid out $25.1 billion in federal and state assistance to nearly 2.33 million claimants.

Florida’s jobless rate went from 4.8% in January to 4.7% in February, according to numbers released Friday by the state Department of Economic Opportunity. The February rate reflected an estimated 474,000 Floridians out of work from a workforce of 10.1 million.