New Florida jobless claims hold steady

FILE - Envelopes from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Reemployment Assistance Program are shown, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Surfside, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
FILE - Envelopes from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Reemployment Assistance Program are shown, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Surfside, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – First-time unemployment claims in Florida were relatively flat last week as the state prepares to again require jobless people to look for work.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimated 17,849 new claims were filed during the week that ended May 15, up from 17,555 the prior week. The figure for the week that ended May 8 also was revised upward from an earlier estimate of 14,872 claims. That was the 14th consecutive week that the state’s numbers were bumped up as additional data became available.

Nationally, 444,000 new claims were filed last week, down 34,000 from the prior week. The national total last week was the lowest number of weekly claims since mid-March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began causing major job losses.

Florida has averaged just under 20,000 claims a week since the start of February 2021.

The federal government released the new estimates a day before the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity will issue an April unemployment report.

The state agency on June 1 will also start requiring new unemployment applicants to follow a “work search” rule that requires unemployment claimants to apply for five jobs a week. The state suspended the requirement last year because of the pandemic.

Last Friday, the Department of Labor reported the U.S. economy added 266,000 jobs in April, well below expectations, raising the national unemployment rate from 6.0 to 6.1%.