TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With 23,600 first-time unemployment claims filed last week, Florida posted its second-highest weekly total since the start of February, as the leisure and hospitality sectors continue struggling to regain a footing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A report Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor said the estimated 23,600 claims during the week that ended April 24 were up from a revised total of 18,838 claims the previous week. The department initially estimated Florida had 16,212 new claims during the week that ended April 17.
Nationally, the department estimated 553,000 new claims last week, down 13,000 from the previous week.
Over the past four weeks, the national average has been 611,750 new claims a week. In Florida, the latest four-week average stands at 20,466 new claims.
Last year, as the state’s economy was devastated by the pandemic, 433,103 unemployment claims were filed during the week that ended April 25. The previous week, a pandemic high of 506,670 applications were filed. Before the pandemic hit the state in mid-March 2020, the state was averaging 5,505 new claims a week.
Florida last month had a 4.7% unemployment rate, representing 475,000 people out of work from a workforce of 10.17 million. The workforce was down 460,000 people from March 2020.
Since March 15, 2020, Florida has paid out more than $26.8 billion in state and federal unemployment benefits to 2.35 million claimants.