While joblessness remains high, first-time claims decline in FL

Jobless workers demonstrate in Miami Springs in support of continued federal unemployment benefits in the pandemic economy. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

First-time unemployment claims in Florida dipped below 30,000 last week for the first time since March 21, when the pandemic forced massive layoffs — reflecting recent job reopenings and a slowdown on layoffs.

The first-time jobless claims were at 28,128, which was 3,497 fewer than the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, reporting preliminary, not-seasonally adjusted data.

The Labor Department cited slower rates of layoffs in Florida agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, and retail trade industries.

New and ongoing jobless claims in Florida were highest in mid-May, with 2.1 million people drawing unemployment the week of May 16. The claims have been declining since mid-July.

Jobless rates by state through September. Credit: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

About 770,000 people were jobless in Florida, or 7.6 percent of the labor force of 10.1 million, through the end of September, the last monthly report. The jobless rate one year ago was 2.9 percent. The highest jobless rates continued to be found in the Broward-Dade-Palm Beach region, reported at just over 10 percent in September.

The latest national unemployment rate, from September, was 6.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nationally, first-time jobless claims last week were down 48,000 from the 757,000 the week before. The peak for new and ongoing jobless claims was 22.7 million in mid-May. It declined to 9 million by mid-October.

The decrease in the Florida first-time unemployment claims came as COVID-19 infections continue to rise, with positivity rates above 5 percent and as high as 8.31 percent for the last two weeks.

As of Thursday, the Florida Department of Health reported 863,619 cases, up from 858,012 the day before.