The COVID-19 crisis has tripled the number of Florida workers filing new claims for unemployment in the last week, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Some 227,000 jobless workers in Florida filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending on March 28, the report shows. It compares to the 74,313 claims filed in the prior week. More than 300,000 workers have filed for unemployment in the last two weeks in the nation’s third-largest state.
Nationally, 6.6 million people filed new unemployment claims in the last week, for a two-week total of more than 10 million, the report shows. The recent filings have shattered the previous worst week of national unemployment claims, which was 695,000 in 1982.
Florida’s 227,000 new unemployment claims ranked seventh among the 50 states in the new report.
The top five states were: California (878,727); Pennsylvania (405,880); New York (366,403); Michigan (311,086); and Ohio (272,129).
Through mid-March, the Department of Labor attributed Florida’s increase in jobless workers to “layoffs in the service, retail trade, manufacturing, wholesale trade, construction, and agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industries.”
The story was similar in other states. California’s job losses were tied to the service industry, while New York’s unemployment claims were caused by layoffs in the “accommodation and food services, arts, entertainment, and recreation, and health care and social assistance industries.”
The report cited the COVID-19 outbreak for the increase in initial unemployment claims in the majority of states.
Jobless workers in Florida, although they are in line for enhanced federal benefits, including an extra $600 a week in support, remain frustrated by a state unemployment benefits system that is overwhelmed by the demand of workers seeking to file their applications.