First-time jobless claims in FL rise for second week; many claims still not paid

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 this month increased in Florida for the second week in a row, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday.

The Labor Department reported that 44,795 workers applied for benefits for the first time in the week that ended Oct. 10, nearly 2,500 claimants more than in the week ended Oct. 3.

Job losses in Florida’s entertainment and hospitality industries have been the largest factors, and theme parks including Disney World and Universal Studios have announced that more layoffs are coming.

Florida unemployment was at 7.4 percent in August, representing 753,326 people on unemployment insurance, which was 4 percent lower than in July. The nation’s state-by-state unemployment rates for September are to be announced Friday.

October unemployment likely will reflect Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Sept. 25 order “reopening” Florida by lifting statewide COVID restrictions and urging commerce to resume as fully as possible. But it also may reflect the layoffs announced at Florida’s world-famous theme parks as visitors continue to shy away from them.

Through Tuesday, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (the state’s labor department) reported it has paid 2,040,806 claimants since March, representing benefits of $17.3 billion. DEO says it has processed more than 4 million unique claims, or 99 percent of those submitted.

But an analysis by the Florida Senate’s Democrats shows that 2,087,007 claims of Floridians remain unpaid as of Wednesday evening. The Democrats are tracking the numbers through its “Florida Unemployment Benefits Watch” and has a hashtag of #PayTheClaimsNow.

The work-search requirement for beneficiaries continues to be waived, at least through Dec. 5.

Nationally, the preliminary number of first-time unemployment claims spiked in the week ending Oct. 10 by 53,000 over the previous week, reaching 898,000.  Based on prior weeks, the total likely will be revised upward in the near future.

In the week ending Oct. 3, the Labor Department’s preliminary number of first-time claims was revised upward by 5,000, to 845,000 – for a nationwide total of 10 million people out of work — and revised upward by 1,250 the week before, to 858,270, for a nationwide total of 11.1 million.

The unemployment numbers come as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The Florida Department of Health on Thursday reported 744,988 COVID-19 infections, up from more than 3,300 the day before. The department also reported 15,736 deaths of Florida residents.