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New Florida jobless claims continue to fall

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. – New jobless claims in Florida continued to slow last week, as the state moves to scale back unemployment assistance for people out of work during the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday estimated Florida had 7,291 first-time unemployment claims filed during the week that ended May 29, down from a revised count of 9,882 the prior week. The department had initially estimated 8,864 claims were filed during the week that ended May 22.

Over the past four weeks, the state has averaged 13,623 new claims a week. That is the lowest for any four-week period since before mid-March 2020, when businesses cut back operations due to the pandemic.

Nationally, an estimated 385,000 new claims were filed during the week that ended May 29, down 20,000 from the prior week. As with the state figures, the national numbers are the lowest since before March 15, 2020.

On Tuesday, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reinstated a “work search” rule that requires unemployment claimants to apply for five jobs a week. The rule was suspended last year because of the pandemic.

Florida has also announced that starting June 26, it will no longer provide $300 a week in federal unemployment assistance on top of the maximum $275 a week provided by the state.

Florida’s unemployment rate was 4.8% in April, reflecting an estimated 487,000 Floridians out of work from a workforce of 10.24 million. The Department of Economic Opportunity will release a May report on June 18.