Jobless claims continued to surge into late May amid COVID-19 pandemic

Unemployment Insurance benefits for millions of Americans who lost their jobs in Florida and across the nation due to coronavirus shutdowns and slowdowns are at center stage as Congress fights over whether to extend or slash a $600 weekly supplement paid atop state benefits. In Florida, UI benefits are capped at $275 weekly. Credit: Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

Another 223,927 Floridians filed initial claims for unemployment compensation during the week ending May 16, placing the state’s unemployment rate at 12.1 percent.

Those numbers represented a slight bump compared to the week before, which saw 223,082 initial claims.

The data reflect the U.S. Department of Labor’s latest assessment of COVID-19’s damage to the labor force and were released Thursday.

Nationally, seasonally adjusted initial claims exceeded 2.4 million, but that was down by 249,000 compared to the previous week.

As of mid-April, the number of Floridians who’d filed for benefits exceeded 1.2 million.

Nationally, insured unemployment rate was 15.7 percent, with 22.9 million people drawing benefits as of May 9. That rate was up by 1.4 percentage points over the week before.

Florida registered the largest increase among the states in initial claims during that week at plus-48,222.

The numbers reflect business restrictions imposed under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ early April stay-home emergency order and voluntary decisions by millions of Floridians to restrict daily activities against the novel coronavirus threat.

However, the governor has begun easing those restrictions.

Jobless claims have swamped the webpage the jobless use to file claims for benefits, although DeSantis has been insisting that the system has been improving.