FL jobless rate dives in August, amid ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

Florida's insured jobless rate fell dramatically in August, but hospitality and leisure sectors were still suffering severe impacts of COVID-19. This chart shows job losses/gains during the pandemic as of August. Credit: Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

Unemployment in Florida fell dramatically between July and August, declining to 7.4 percent in August compared with 11.4 percent in July, according to a new jobless report released Friday.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that jobless workers drawing Unemployment Insurance benefits in Florida decreased from 1,136,900 in July to 753,300 in August, using seasonally adjusted data, a decline of nearly 384,000.

Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity showed “encouraging indicators” in a press release Friday, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

For example, “Florida lost 1,178,100 jobs from February to April 2020 and has since gained back over half of the jobs lost (+631,600 jobs),” the release stated.

Still, “August labor statistics reflect the continued effects of COVID-19 and the efforts to reopen businesses and services,” the DEO reported.

As of Friday, the Florida Department of Health reported 677,660 COVID-19 infections and 13,225 deaths of Florida residents.

Data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor showed first-time jobless claims in Florida for the week of Sept. 12 declined from the number of new claims filed the week before. The report said nearly 30 million Americans remain out of work as of Aug. 29.

In Florida, the jobless no longer will get federal unemployment supplements to add to regular state unemployment benefits that are the lowest in the nation. Earlier this year, those supplements were $600 a week, ending in late July, followed in August by four payments of $300 weekly, and no other in sight.

Meanwhile, the hospitality and entertainment industries in August were still suffering double-digit unemployment, as high as 57 percent in the hospitality and hospitality/food service sectors, compared with August of last year, according to DEO employment data.

The DEO data show the difference in unemployment rates across Florida in August 2020:

Lafayette County posted the state’s lowest unemployment rate (3.4 percent), followed by Liberty County (4.1 percent), Wakulla County (4.2 percent), and Baker County, Gilchrist County, and Union County (4.4 percent each), all rural.

Osceola County had the highest unemployment rate (15.1 percent) in Florida , followed by Orange County (11.6 percent), Broward County and Polk County (9.3 percent each), and Lake County (8.8 percent).

Phoenix editor Diane Rado contributed to this report.